1st confirmed case of measles in New Brunswick is UNB Fredericton student

A student at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton has "recently" been diagnosed with the measles, the university said in a statement Monday.

It is the first confirmed case of the highly contagious virus in the province since 2013 and is linked to a recent outbreak in Nova Scotia, according to health officials.

"The student in question was not a member of the residence community, is currently receiving treatment and is doing well," the university said in what it described as an "important public health notice."

No information about the student has been released.

Those known to have been in direct contact with the student have been notified, but as a precaution, university officials have released a list of dates, times and locations where people may have come into contact with the affected student between March 22 and March 30.

"We would ask that the UNB community refer to the information," and anyone who made contact should watch for measles symptoms until April 20, the statement said.

Early symptoms of the measles, which usually appear eight to 12 days after infection, are similar to the common cold, including a cough, runny nose and sore eyes, followed by a fever and a red blotchy rash that spreads from the face down to the body.

"According to public health officials, the risk of contracting measles in this situation is low, but if you are experiencing symptoms … we encourage you to contact public health," the notice said.

Spread through close contact

Most people are protected from the measles by being adequately vaccinated, Department of Health spokesperson Veronique Taylor said in an email.

Anyone born after 1970 who has not had the free two-dose vaccine that protects against the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and has never had the measles is at risk.

Measles can be spread through the air via coughs or sneezes by an infected person, according to health officials.

It can also be spread by direct contact with infected secretions of the nose and throat through sharing food, drinks, cigarettes or kissing someone who has the virus.

The virus can remain contagious on surfaces for up to two hours. A person can spread measles from four days before to four days after the rash develops.

Measles can cause ear infections and pneumonia. Swelling of the brain occurs in one child out of 1,000 and can lead to seizures, deafness, mental retardation or death.

Most fully recover

There is no specific treatment for the measles. Most people are sick for up to 10 days and then recover completely.

Anyone who has already had the measles is considered protected for life. Adults born before 1970 are considered immune.

The university said it is working with public health in its investigation and management of the case and will provide updates as they become available.

In the meantime, anyone with questions or concerns is encouraged to contact public health's communicable diseases office at 506-444-5905, Telecare (811) after hours, or the UNB Student Health Centre at 506-453-4837.

Over the past five years, Canada has seen an average of 10 cases of measles each year.

But Nova Scotia has had a recent outbreak, with at least 20 cases reported so far this year, and Ontario has also recently reported some cases.

Almost all cases are linked to international travel or exposure to individuals who travelled abroad, said Taylor.

New Brunswick has had two reported cases of measles between 2002 and 2011, according to health officials.

Possible contact times with the affected UNB student and locations:

- March 22: Head Hall C10, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

- March 22: MacLaggan Hall, bottom floor, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

- March 22: UNB Financial Services in Physics Building at 8 Bailey Dr., ground floor, 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 a.m. or 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

- March 23: Carleton Hall, bottom, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

- March 23: Tilley Hall, 1st floor, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

- March 24: Head Hall C10 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

- March 24: MacLaggan Hall bottom 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

- March 30: Carleton Hall, bottom, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

- March 30: Tilley Hall, 1st floor, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.