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Community Health & Wellness

Measles Outbreak Update: New Cases in Alberta and Ontario as of May 16, 2014

Above, BC Centre for Disease Control's (BCCDC's) electron microscope image of measles virus. (In reality the measles virus is not purple; the purple colour is added as visual aid.)
Above, BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC’s) electron microscope image of measles virus. (In reality the measles virus is not purple; the purple colour is added as visual aid.)

This is an update to these previous blogs regarding the 2014 measles outbreak in Canada:

Ontario

Public Health Ontario reported that between January and March 31, 2014, Ontario had 11 cases of measles, five of whom were reported in returning travellers from destinations including Europe and Southeast Asia.

  • A further six cases acquired infection in Ontario and were epidemiologically linked to recent travel – acquired measles cases.
  • Although less common, recent cases have been observed even in individuals who have received two valid doses of measles – containing vaccine.
    • Thus, a two – dose measles immunization history does not rule out measles, and appropriate testing needs to occur.

On April 8, 2014, CTV Toronto reported that Ontario health officials confirmed two additional measles cases and exposure sites in the Greater Toronto Area.

  • Exposure sites were certain locations in Brampton, Ontario and a flight into Toronto Pearson International Airport during the period of March 25 to April 3, 2014.

On May 8, 2014, Toronto Public Health reported possible measles exposure on flight into Toronto Pearson International Airport.

  • Toronto Public Health is currently investigating a suspected measles case related to travel from the Philippines.
    • The person with the suspected case returned to Toronto on May 8.
  • Passengers on the following flights may have been exposed to measles:
    • Eva Air Flight BR 0272 that departed at 12:45 p.m. from Philippines International airport to Taipei, Taiwan on May 8; and
    • Eva Air Flight BR 36 that departed from Taiwan International Airport at 6:45 p.m. on May 8, arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport, Terminal 1 at 9:30 p.m.
  • While Toronto Public Health believes that the risk to passengers is low, anyone who was on these flights on May 8 should do the following:

    • Check your immunization record to make sure you and those who travelled with you are up to date with the measles vaccination (MMR or MMRV).
      • If you are unsure, please check with your health care provider.
      • Those born before 1970 are considered protected against measles.
    • Watch for symptoms of measles until May 29 (21 days after possible exposure).
      • These include a high fever, cold-like symptoms (cough/runny nose), sore eyes or sensitivity to light, small spots with a white centre on the inside of the mouth, and a red rash lasting four to seven days.

Alberta

Effective April 29, 2014, a measles outbreak has been declared in the Calgary, Central and Edmonton Zones of Alberta Health Services. Albertans in all Zones are encouraged to ensure immunizations are up to date.

  • On May 9, 2014: Alberta Health Services confirmed a case of measles in Fort McMurray/North Zone and advised of potential exposure locations.
  • From May 2  to May 15, 2014: Alberta Health Services confirmed three additional cases of measles in the Edmonton Zone and advised of potential exposure locations.
Alberta Health Services' Measles Cases Chart - May 16, 2014
Alberta Health Services’ Measles Cases Chart – May 16, 2014

Measles is an extremely contagious disease, spread easily through the air. There is no treatment for measles; however, it can be prevented through immunization.

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