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  • Measles Outbreak in Vancouver Traced to Family Who Traveled to Vietnam

    All measles cases came from three French-language schools in South Vancouver.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Measles Outbreak in Vancouver Traced to Family Who Traveled to Vietnam
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Health officials in Vancouver, Canada declared a measles outbreak last February 15, 2019, after eight cases were confirmed that week. All cases came from three French-language schools in South Vancouver, the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) reports.

    Two of the schools are connected by a door, and the schools use the same bus company, the Huffington Post reports.

    According to the CBC, the spread started with a family who vacationed in Vietnam, not in the Philippines. It had been earlier reported that the measles cases in Vancouver were traced to a man who had traveled to our country.

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    In an exclusive interview with CBC News, the family’s father Emmanuel Bilodeau revealed that his three sons were not vaccinated with the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine because he was influenced by reports that linked the vaccine with autism, which has been debunked (scroll below to read more).

    Bilodeau stressed they are not “anti-vaxxers,” and they now know the studies about the MMR vaccine leading to autism are untrue. Before their trip to Southeast Asia, he brought his sons to a travel clinic where they received other vaccinations but not for measles.

    “We’re not anti-vaccination. We’re just very cautious parents, and we just tried to do it in the manner that was the least invasive possible on the child’s health,” he tells CBC News.

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    “There is no proven connection between autism and the MMR vaccine,” said Dr. Nicole Perreras, a pediatric infectious disease specialist in an interview with SmartParenting.com.ph. “Studies have refuted this claim over and over.”

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the 1998 study that raised concerns about a possible link between MMR and autism was later found to be “seriously flawed and fraudulent.” The paper was also retracted by the journal that published it.

    “Many large scientific studies around the world have since been conducted and have found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism,” according to the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control.

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    Bilodeau shared his 11-year-old son began experiencing symptoms including fever on the plane ride from Vietnam. The father brought his son to a hospital on January 21, 2019 and told the medical staff his son wasn’t vaccinated for measles. But the staff ruled out measles and conducted tests for malaria and influenza instead. But soon after, Bilodeau's two sons also started showing similar symptoms.

    According to Dr. Althea Hayden of Vancouver Coastal Health, the number of measles cases in Vancouver should be zero if there was an adequate level of immunization. An outbreak was declared since eight cases is already a “higher-than-expected” number of cases.

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    Preventing the spread of diseases

    Young children who are unvaccinated are at the highest risk of getting diseases. If they attend daycare, preschools, and schools, they run the risk of spreading viruses and infections because children share their germs far more than adults do. “This is especially true among infants and toddlers who are likely to use their hands to wipe their nose or rub their eyes and then handle toys or touch other children,” says HealthyChildren.org.

    An adequate level of immunization leads to herd immunity, wherein infections won’t spread as easily because a large number of people in the community are vaccinated against a certain disease.

    Gid M-K, an epidemiologist, explains how herd immunity works in simpler terms. “Imagine if you catch measles. After seeing the doctor, [you] stay at home for the rest of your infectious period. You’ve limited your contact with uninfected people by staying at home once you realized you were sick. Even so, you’re still likely to have infected a significant number of people whilst you were [wandering] around, blissfully unaware,” he writes in his Medium account.

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    He adds, “But what if these people were vaccinated? If the vast majority of people you ran into on the street were already immune to catching measles, you might only pass on the disease to one person before going home. If they were all vaccinated, the outbreak of measles would stop with you.”

    In other words, “If you don’t catch it, you don’t pass it on.”

    Herd immunity is indirect protection and only works for diseases that are spread directly between people. So, while it is proven effective, vaccines are still the best way to protect your children from illnesses.

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