Toronto Public Health investigating measles outbreak
WATCH: Sean Mallen has the details on the measles outbreak that has Toronto Public Health investigating.
TORONTO – Toronto Public Health is investigating a measles outbreak after confirming four cases in the city.
Two of the cases are children under two years old; two are adults, all from different families, the health authority said in a statement Monday morning.
Dr. Lisa Berger, the associated medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health said three of the four cases are from the western part of the city.
Toronto Public Health has not yet identified a source case or made a known connection between the four cases. Berger said none of the four people had recently travelled and are investigating whether they had recently come into contact with someone who had.
“It’s important for the public and healthcare providers to be aware that measles is circulating in Toronto right now,” Berger said.
The risk to the general public is low and advises people to check their immunization records.
Some symptoms of measles can include a high fever, cold-like symptoms, sore eyes and a rash that lasts for four to seven days.
“Measles is more serious in infants and pregnant women and people whose immune systems are compromised,” Berger said.
Measles vaccination includes two shots, one given at 12 months of age, and the second between four and six years of age. None of the four diagnosed with measles had both shots, Berger said.
A 2013 report by Toronto Public Health on infectious diseases in the city suggested that measles has been “eliminated in Canada” but is sometimes imported from outside the country.
The report also warns that a slight drop in vaccination rates could lead to the virus re-establishing itself in the city.
“Unless everybody or as close to everybody as possible is vaccinated … there is risk,” Ontario’s Minister of Health Eric Hoskins said.
The virus can be deadly. Five Canadian children died as a result of the measles between 2000 and 2011, according to Statistics Canada.
Vaccination rates vary significantly in Toronto schools. According to data obtained by Global News, many Toronto schools fall well below the 95 per cent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.
WATCH: Health Minister calls anti-vaccination movement ‘ridiculous’ and ‘dangerous’
Over 70 people in six states and Mexico who visited Disneyland in December have been diagnosed with measles during a recent American outbreak. The majority of those who got sick, according to the Associated Press, did not have the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine.
Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose told Global News that choosing not to vaccinate children is “irresponsible” because it can put other people at risk.
“I personally think it’s ridiculous. I really do. I think it’s irresponsible and I think it’s dangerous because we know vaccines are effective, we know they’re safe and we know they save lives. And in Canada, they’re free. They’re free under the public health system.”
WATCH: A growing list of health professionals — including officials from the Centers for Disease Control — are issuing a warning: there is a measles outbreak in the US and it is expanding at an alarming rate.
– With files from The Canadian Press