March 7, 2018 5:44 pm

Canadian health authorities add more European countries to measles travel warning

In this photo taken on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, Dr. Roberto Ieraci checks a syringe before vaccinating a child in Rome. The nation is battling one of its worst epidemics of measles in recent years, reporting a six-fold increase in cases last year that accounted for a quarter of all the cases in Europe.

Alessandra Tarantino / The Canadian Press

The Public Health Agency of Canada is warning Canadians that they should make sure their measles vaccination is up to date when visiting a long list of European countries.

The agency first warned about measles in Europe a year ago and has slowly added more countries to the list. The most recent additions are Latvia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Norway.

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READ MORE: Vaccinate your kids before heading to Europe as measles outbreak spreads

Measles outbreaks in Canada often originate from travellers, according to the agency. When an infected person returns to Canada, they can spread the virus to groups of people who aren’t vaccinated and can cause an outbreak.

READ MORE: How a decades old, fraudulent anti-vaccine study still affects public health

Measles is a highly-contagious disease that can spread through person-to-person contact and through droplets in the air. The potentially deadly disease, which causes a spotted rash, has seen a comeback recently in Europe and other countries as many people chose not to vaccinate their children.

Reported cases of the virus almost quadrupled in Europe in 2017 (21,000 cases) compared to the year before (5,273 cases), with the highest rates in Italy, Romania and Ukraine, according to the World Health Organization.

WATCH: The World Health Organization is concerned about a dramatic increase in measles cases in Europe. As Allison Vuchnich reports, Canadian health officials want you to make sure your vaccinations are up to date. (From April 2017)

These four European countries have had the most measles cases, according to the March 5, 2018, travel bulletin:

  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Romania
  • Ukraine

Other countries that have reported measles cases are: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

READ MORE: Deadly measles outbreak spreads in Europe as vaccinations fall

If you’re planning to travel, PHAC recommends visiting a health-care provider six weeks before you travel and make sure your measles vaccination is up to date.

And if you arrive home and think you might have some of the symptoms of measles (fever, white spots inside the mouth and throat, and later, a blotchy red rash among others) you should see a health-care provider. And – you should let them know that you have these symptoms before you show up at their office so they can take proper precautions.

— With a file from Katie Dangerfield, Global News

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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