SAINT JOHN (GNB) – The measles outbreak in the Saint John region is officially over, Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, declared today.

“Though the outbreak is over, I encourage New Brunswickers to ensure their immunizations are up to date,” said Russell. “Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease and is vaccine-preventable. I extend my sincere appreciation to the dedicated team of health professionals who worked tirelessly during the outbreak.”

The measles outbreak started on April 26 when an individual who had travelled to Europe returned to Saint John. The disease spread from this individual to 11 other people in the region with the last case confirmed on May 31. During the outbreak, health officials contacted, advised and provided interventions for people who were exposed to the measles, and urged the general public to ensure their vaccinations were up to date.

“Be vigilant, this can happen again,” said Russell. “If you are travelling, even to the United States or Europe, you should be fully immunized.”

To declare the end of an outbreak, Health Canada guidelines recommend at least 32 days pass following the rash onset date of the last case associated with the outbreak.

Over the course of the outbreak, Public Health officials contacted 7,500 people through contact tracing and immunized 2,370 people at 12 special immunization clinics.

Most people are protected from measles infection from two doses of vaccine. In New Brunswick, the vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella is free for babies aged 12 and 18 months and for children born in 2009 and later who have not previously received two doses. The vaccine is free for adults born in 1970 or later.

The measles virus is transmitted through the air or by direct contact with an infected person. Measles can be more severe in adults and infants and can lead to complications. All residents are urged to consider vaccination as the best way to protect themselves and their families against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.