Alberta declares three measles outbreaks, while Quebec stays clean

Health authority says outbreak entering Chilliwack and Agassiz

Canada's long, drawn-out series of measles outbreaks continued this week when Alberta health officials declared not one, not two, but three outbreaks in regions across the province.

The trio of declarations are just the latest instances of measles that have hit various parts of the country in recent months. Almost every province has had to address measles on some level. Save perhaps Quebec, where vaccinations are mandatory, and apparently quite effective.

Someone flag this for Jenny McCarthy, please. She's going to want to remember to ignore it.

Alberta Health Service announced late Tuesday that measles outbreaks had been declared in Edmonton, Calgary and the central region of the province. As of Tuesday afternoon, a total of 22 cases of measles had been confirmed in those regions.

Measles is a contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death to those exposed without proper protection. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and red, inflamed eyes, as well as a rash that spreads from the patient's face and neck to the chest, arms and legs. There is no treatment for measles, but it can be prevented through immunization.

The virus's return to prominence has been attributed in part to an anti-vaccine movement, led by various celebrities including the aforementioned McCarthy, that has urged against immunization at an early age. Essentially, the opposite of what trained medical practitioners promote. Immunization shots are provided for free across Canada. Additional clinics have routinely been set up following measles outbreaks, in the hopes that those who have not been previously immunized will do so.

Measles alerts were posted in Edmonton and Calgary earlier this month after residents who had contracted the virus were reported to have visited Calgary bars and an Edmonton grocery store, in unrelated cases.

Separate reports of measles have stretched from coast to coast, with recent outbreaks reported in Hamilton, Ont., and Chilliwack, B.C.

The prevalence of measles in regions of British Columbia has been the most concerning, with as many as 400 reported cases centred on a religious community where immunization was low. That outbreak was declared over after four months earlier this week.

The other side of that coin is Quebec, where there hasn't been a single reported instance of measles all year.

According to the Montreal Gazette, the province was hit hard by a measles outbreak in 2011, at which time nearly 800 children and adolescents contracted the illness.

In the responding vaccination blitz, some 70,000 children who hadn't been previously inoculated received their shots. Those whose parents couldn't prove they were immunized got the shots as a precaution.

In short: Quebeckers were immunized. No excuses. And the results speak for themselves.

Sure, it isn't perfect. In fact, there are been recent questions about whether the vaccine actually lasts forever. But it is better than the alternative.

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