Canada reports first measles outbreak in Saskatoon in 15 years

The Saskatoon Health Region in Saskatchewan, Canada, reported its first measles case this week, representing the health region's first reported incidence of measles in 15 years.

The viral infection, which was virtually eradicated through immunization, is extremely contagious and has been reported six times in the Saskatchewan province overall since September 2011, the Star Phoenix reports.

Julie Kryzanowski, the deputy medical health officer of the Saskatoon Health Region, said the case is connected to a case reported earlier this month in the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region. Four additional cases were reported earlier in the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region.

"Today, measles is a rare disease in Canada," Kryzanowski said, according to the Star Phoenix. "Measles is just a plane ride away. When we see a case, it's a reminder we need to remain vigilant."

Approximately 76 percent of two-year-olds in the health region are vaccinated against measles. The region would like to increase that number to 95 percent.

The health region is setting up special measles vaccination clinics along with influenza immunization clinics to increase access for parents to immunize their children, the Star Phoenix reports.

Measles is transmitted through sneezes, coughs, bodily fluid contact and through indirect contact with contaminated clothing or surfaces. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, mouth spots and a rash. In severe cases, measles can lead to death.