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Another measles case confirmed in Ont. child who recently returned from Europe

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A child from Brant County has been diagnosed with measles after travelling to Europe.

The child is currently hospitalized but no further details have been released about the severity of their illness, though officials have confirmed the child was under the age of 10.

The Brant County Health Unit said the case has been confirmed and they are working to identify anyone who may have been exposed to the measles virus.

"I would like to reinforce that there was no school exposure," said Dr. Rebecca Comley, the medical officer of health for the Brant County Health Unit.

The health unit has also identified several locations, visited by the child, leading up to their diagnosis:

  • Air Canada/Lufthansa Flight 6584 from London Heathrow (United Kingdom to Pearson International Airport) on Feb. 23 between the hours of 3 p.m. (local London time) and 5:55 p.m. (local Toronto time). Brant County Health Unit said this flight was also cobranded as Air Canada Flight 857.
  • Pearson International Airport - Terminal 1 on Feb. 23 between the hours of 5:55 p.m. and 9 p.m. local time.
  • Brantford General Hospital – The Emergency Department waiting room on Feb. 23 between the hours of 8 p.m. and 2:02 a.m.
  • McMaster Children’s Hospital – The Emergency Department on Feb. 24 between the hours of 6:51 a.m. to 2:09 p.m.

The health unit advises anyone who may have been exposed to the measles virus to:

  • Check their immunization records to confirm they and their family members are up to date with their measles vaccinations (MMR or MMRV). If you’re unsure of their vaccination status, check with your healthcare provider. (Two doses of the vaccine are recommended for anyone born after 1969, and those born before 1970 are generally considered protected against measles.)
  • Watch for symptoms of measles, even if you’re up to date with the measles vaccine.
  • Anyone experiencing symptoms should contact their healthcare provider as soon as possible to discuss recommendations. Do not go to their office, instead, call first to inform your doctor that you may have been in contact with someone who has measles.
  • Do not go to work or school.

What you need to know about the measles virus

Measles is highly contagious and can spread easily from person to person as the disease is airborne. The health unit says the virus can live in the air for up to two hours after the patient has coughed or sneezed.

Symptoms include:

  • Red rash
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Small white spots may appear in the mouth or back of throat

The health unit says a person with the measles is contagious starting four days before to four days after the rash appears. Symptoms can begin between seven and 21 days after exposure and last for one to two weeks.

"It can cause brain inflammation, bacterial infections and a high percentage of young children who get measles end up hospitalized," explained Dr. Nicola Mercer, the medical officer of health and CEO for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. "This is not a disease that we should take lightly."

Experts advise parents get their child immunized with the measles vaccine (MMR) after their first birthday, followed by a booster shot before they start school.

"It's important that individuals confirm or check that they're fully vaccinated against measles before traveling," said Comley. "[The] measles vaccine is very effective. It works and is part of our childhood vaccination program in Ontario." 

Concerns across Canada

Many countries, including Canada, have recently seen an increase in measles cases.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said there were four active cases as of Tuesday.

Two were children who had recently travelled outside Canada. One child was also hospitalized.

Moore also warned of the increased risk ahead of the March Break.

“While measles is no longer considered endemic in Canada, outbreaks can happen when susceptible individuals (e.g., unvaccinated) travel to and return from countries where measles is circulating,” Moore wrote to public health agencies Tuesday. “Importation and resultant local transmission can, and has, led to measles outbreaks in Canada.”

These cases come as a new national survey shows increasing anti-vaccine opposition to mandatory childhood vaccines in Canada.

According to the Angus Reid Institute, nearly two in five parents with children under the age of 18 were "really against" vaccinating their children.

Meanwhile, the Brant County Health Unit said 994 elementary school students received suspension orders on Monday. The parents of those children, who were born in 2014, 2015 and 2016, had not updated their immunization records with the health unit. Caregivers are required to provide up-to-date vaccination records for students. If they haven't been updated by March 26, or the child is still missing required vaccines, they will be suspended from school. 

In Ontario, all children between the ages of four and 17 must have the following vaccines: tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, meningitis and varicella. Alternatively, they can provide a valid exemption to the health unit.

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