Volume 90, Issue 82

Thursday, February 20, 1997



Red spotted outbreak continues

By Sara Marett
Gazette Staff

A University of British Columbia staff member is seeing spots – red ones that is, as an outbreak of measles that hit Simon Fraser University in January has found its way over to the neighbouring school.

"The epidemic seems to have spread to our school, but just barely as this staff member is the only reported case," said Rob Lloyd-Smith, acting director of UBC's student health services. "Time will tell if there are more cases on campus as it can take up to a week for the symptoms to show and during this time it is contagious.

"The affected person did not seem to have any particular contact with anyone at SFU, so we are not sure how the disease has spread," Lloyd-Smith said, adding that SFU and UBC are approximately six miles apart from each other. "There has been 138 reported cases of measles on the lower mainland of B.C. and most of these are at SFU.

"We conducted a full-blown immunization program last week where approximately 15,000 people were vaccinated. We recommended students have a second vaccination as approximately 10 per cent of people do not become immune to the disease after the first vaccination."

UBC's reading break is this week and Lloyd-Smith is concerned students who do not realize they are infected could be spreading the disease while travelling. "It is possible that this could happen, but because there has only been one reported issue we hope it is not likely," he said.

Ken Mennell, director of media and public relations at SFU, said as of Feb. 14 there were 62 reported cases of measles at the school whose population of staff and students is 22,000.

"We are hoping that's it – that there are no more cases," Mennell said. "The first two cases were reported Jan. 27. At this point we notified the public health officials and began a full-fledged immunization program which vaccinated 12,000 people."

Mennell could not speculate on the reason for the outbreak of the disease. "We now have to wait for the public health officials to hopefully determine the cause," he said, adding that one reported case makes it hard to say it is a major issue for the school at this point.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997