JOLIETTE – Public health officials have confirmed there are now 136 cases of measles across the Lanaudière region, located just north of Montreal.
That’s up from 119 earlier this week.
At the end of February, there were 32 cases. Just one month ago, there were 10.
Health officials northeast of Montreal are bracing for even more cases.
Officials say the cases are all epidemiologically related and involve unvaccinated children and adults.
The cases are centred around one religious group from the region, La Mission de L’Esprit-Saint.
Dr. Muriel Lafarge, who heads the local health authority, said one student attended school on the last day before spring break and was still contagious.
Measles is highly contagious and causes fever, a distinctive red rash and a runny nose.
Most people who come in contact with the disease will just experience unpleasant illness, but there are also significant complications that can occur.
“The level of contact is varied – not all students had the same level of contact with the single case,” said Dr. Johanne Desilets.
“It’s one case in three pavilions, but given the level of contagion, we’re not taking any chances.”
The school has 700 students and staff spread across three pavilions.
All staff and students at the school are having their vaccination records checked.
Information will be offered to parents and vaccinations will be offered Thursday.
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Fifty-one staff and 114 students were already identified Tuesday as not being fully vaccinated.
Anyone who refuses to be vaccinated will be required to stay home for two weeks.
The health authority in Joliette says the spike was not unexpected given the group in question includes about 20 families, each with between seven and 10 children who were all unvaccinated.
The outbreak started after two families returned from Disneyland in California in early February.
There have also been 18 cases of measles confirmed in Ontario and a single case in Manitoba.
* with files from The Canadian Press