13 cases of measles now confirmed in current Nova Scotia outbreak

Public health officials say 13 more cases of measles have been confirmed in the current outbreak in Nova Scotia, bringing the total number of cases of the communicable disease to 20 in the province so far this year.

Those who contracted the disease are mostly between the ages of 25 and 45 and are in the southwestern part of the province, Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, deputy chief medical officer of health, said Monday.

"It is linked to an international traveller, that's not entirely surprising," said Watson-Creed. "We see this type of thing, importation of communicable diseases, on a regular basis. We are a port community in Nova Scotia."

Public health officials said the new cases are not related to the previous Halifax-area outbreak in February and March, which affected seven people.  

A Nova Scotia Health Authority release said some confirmed cases include health-care workers. Watson-Creed said the disease is not being transmitted in any hospitals and there are measures are in place to prevent further spread of measles at health-care facilities.

"With a measles case, putting a mask on them when they come into the waiting room, actually sitting them in what we call a negative pressure room, that removes any infected air from that room on a regular basis," she said.

"The slow climb in cases indicates we may be approaching the peak and it will peter out," she said.

People at some organizations and businesses have also been affected.

"With individuals who may have been exposed and are at higher risk for contracting measles, we can give them the vaccination and that may prevent it from developing," Watson-Creed said.

"Depending on the situation, we let individuals know of any precautions they may need to take, such as time off work or limiting activities, to help prevent further spread of measles." 

She said Nova Scotians are generally very responsible when it comes to vaccinating their children. Otherwise, the outbreaks would have been more severe.

"In the 10 years I've been here the numbers [of vaccinations] have risen."

Health Department numbers show the province has had few measles cases in the past few decades, with no outbreaks at all between 2002 and 2007.