Montreal’s public health authority says the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) has done an “absolutely rigorous and exemplary handling of the situation,” after a hospital employee showed up to work while contagious with measles.
“We have no worries regarding what’s being done at the moment. We’re fully confident that all the required measures are being put in place by the MUHC,” said Eric Litvak, medical chief of infectious diseases with Montreal public health.
The MUHC says it is sending out letters to several dozen patients who could have been exposed to measles in March and has taken all precautions to ensure staff and patients are safe.
“We have established a list of all the exposed employees and patients and are verifying their immune status against measles,” said Dr. Marie-Astrid Lefebvre, an infectious diseases specialist with the MUHC.
The hospital says it was informed on April 5 that an employee tested positive for the disease.
Lefebvre told reporters the person contracted the highly contagious illness while on a trip to the Caribbean then went to work while contagious between March 23 and March 27.
The MUHC says the employee visited the Glen site’s ICU, the cardiac surgery unit and the cardiovascular heart failure-heart transplant clinic.
“The individual in question developed very vague symptoms on March 23 that lasted until March 26 that weren’t severe enough that he could not work, so he continued to work in the hospital,” Lefebvre explained.
“It wasn’t until March 27, 2019 that he developed the more classic rash and sought medical attention at the Glen.”
Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose, red and watery eyes and tiny white spots in the mouth.
Two to four days after these symptoms, a rash will appear first on the face, then extremities for three to seven days.
According to Lefebvre, all MUHC employees are required to obtain vaccination in order to work on their premises. She added the individual was vaccinated but vaccines are 95 per cent effective.
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Public health authorities says this constitutes the city’s third case of measles.
“We usually have between zero and four cases every year. We’ve had a bit more since the beginning of 2019,” said Litvak.
Litvak added all reported cases in Quebec are not related to one another as all people contracted the disease abroad.
“Anyone who is not fully vaccinated should definitely take this situation as a reminder of the importance of updating their vaccination,” Litvak said.
The MUHC says so far no one else has been infected and the employee did not visit any other public spaces.
The hospital is urging anyone who was a patient during March 23 and March 27 who isn’t vaccinated or presents any symptoms to call their hotline at 514-934-8007.