Simcoe Muskoka health unit says recent measles case a lab error

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Related: Seventy-three per cent of Canadians say the measles vaccine should be required for children unless prohibited for medical reasons, according to an Ipsos polling done exclusively for Global News. – Mar 27, 2024

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says the previously reported measles case in the area is now confirmed to be a false positive.

The health unit announced Wednesday that it was notified by Public Health Ontario that due to a laboratory error, the case of measles that had been lab-confirmed positive on March 12 was, in fact, negative for the measles virus.

Given this new information, the health unit’s medical officer of health says there has not been any public exposure to measles from the previously reported case.

“We recognize that notifying the public of what we believed to be a positive measles case in our area created worry, anxiety and disruption for some, and we regret this. We do know that, despite best efforts, on rare occasions laboratory errors can occur. We are working closely with the PHO’s laboratory to do all that we can to ensure that such an incident does not occur again,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health.

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Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that spreads quickly through airborne transmission. Health officials warn that it can live in the air or on surfaces for up to two hours.

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“Although we are relieved for the individual involved, and for all Simcoe Muskoka residents, that this case has now been confirmed as negative, we know that measles is still active in Ontario at this time, and the potential remains for new cases to arise, especially given the increase in Ontarians travelling to areas in the world that have higher numbers of measles cases,” Gardner said. “This is why we continue to advise individuals to keep up to date with their routine immunizations, including measles, mumps and rubella vaccination.”

Health officials say the risk of measles is low for people who have been fully immunized with two doses of measles vaccine and those born before 1970.

The health unit warns that children who have been delayed in receiving their routine childhood immunizations and people who have not had two doses of measles vaccine are at higher risk of contracting the disease.

More information about measles is available on the health unit’s website or by calling Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to speak with a public health professional.

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