3rd case of measles reported in southern Ontario

Click to play video: 'Ontario measles case has connections with Brantford, Hamilton hospitals'
Ontario measles case has connections with Brantford, Hamilton hospitals
Brantford and Hamilton medical officers say they are jointly investigating a measles case that is connected with travel to Europe and potentially may have led to exposures at two hospitals and an airport – Feb 28, 2024

A child from the Brantford area has become the latest Ontarian to have contracted the measles, according to the Brant County Health Unit.

The agency says the child is believed to have recently contracted the virus during a trip to Europe.

“The virus was acquired through travel and the individual is hospitalized,” Dr. Rebecca Comley, BCHU medical officer of health, told Global News.

This would be the third travel-related case to spring up in Ontario. One case was discovered in Mississauga on Feb. 13, while a second involved an infant who was hospitalized with measles in Toronto three days later.

Ontario’s top doctor followed that news by sending a memo, which was obtained by Global News, to local public health units that warned they could see a rise in the number of cases.

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In the memo, Dr. Kieran Moore cited a “dramatic” global rise in the number of measles cases.

The BCHU says it is attempting to follow up with any known contacts of the patient but also the following locations in which the people may have been exposed to the virus:

  • Lufthansa Flight 6584 from London Heathrow, United Kingdom to Pearson International Airport, on Feb. 23 between 3 p.m. (local London time) and 5:55 p.m. (local Toronto time).
  • Pearson International Airport Terminal 1 on Feb. 23 between 5:55 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Brantford General Hospital emergency department on Feb. 23 between 8 p.m. and 2:02 a.m.
  • McMaster Children’s Hospital emergency department on Feb. 24 between 6:51 a.m. and 2:09 p.m.

“The exposures were distinct. The patient,  that individual, presented to Bradford General Hospital and then independently presented to McMaster,” Comley said.

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The BCHU did not provide any further details on the child but did note that there had been no exposures connected to schools.

As the patient was also in Hamilton, Hamilton Public Health Services is also responding to the situation.

So this exposure did occur within the pediatric emergency department at McMaster’s Children’s Hospital,” Dr. Brendan Lew, Associate Medical Officer of Health, told Global News. “We have been in close collaboration with McMaster Children’s Hospital to identify those individuals who would have been in a shared airspace and exposed to this confirmed case of measles.

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“And, that information has been used to inform the people that we would identify, and require follow up by our public health nurses.”

In a release, the agency warns that measles is a highly contagious illness that is spread through an airborne virus. It can live in the air for up to two hours after a person coughs or sneezes and can also be spread by direct contact with nose or throat droplets.

So measles is a serious, vaccine-preventable, infectious disease that can have very, very, serious complications and cause severe illness,” Lew said. “It’s caused by respiratory virus and we routinely vaccinate against measles as part of the routine childhood, vaccination schedule.”

Over 90 per cent of those who are living at home with a child who contracts the virus will also catch it.
Symptoms of the virus include a red, blotchy rash, high fever, cough, a runny nose, red watery eyes and fatigue.

“Measles is a serious illness, but it is preventable,” Comley said. “Studies show that the measles vaccine (MMR) is 99 per cent effective in preventing measles after two doses. It’s important for all Ontarians to ensure they are fully vaccinated against measles, especially before traveling.”

The BCHU says anyone who believes they may have been exposed should check their immunization records to make sure they are up to date, and if they are unsure, they should check with their health-care provider.

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Anyone born before 1969 is generally considered protected, while those born in 1970 or after should have had two doses to be considered fully vaccinated.

That said, if you have been exposed the health unit says to keep an eye out for symptoms of measles.

Anyone who does experience symptoms should reach out to their health-care provider for advice and should also not go to work or school.

Those who catch the virus are contagious for four days before and four days after the rash appears. Symptoms are likely to appear in around 10 days although they could appear between seven and 21 days. They generally last for a week or two.

— with files from Global News’ Don  Isaac Callan and Colin D’Mello

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