/Be wary of measles, says Public Health

Be wary of measles, says Public Health

by James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Students are out of the classrooms this week and the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR District Health Unit) is advising residents to be cautious traveling this March break as cases of measles continue to rise throughout Ontario and other countries.

Currently, there are four active cases of measles in Ontario and reports of measles cases in two additional provinces.

National monitoring of cases gets reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada who issues weekly surveillance reports and monitoring maps for measles and rubella in Canada.

While measles has been eliminated in Canada, outbreaks can happen when unvaccinated individuals travel to and return from other countries where measles is circulating.

Most of these cases involve unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children. However, a non-travel, vaccinated measles case has been reported in Ontario.

According to Health Canada, only 79 per cent of the population has been vaccinated for measles.

Measles is a highly contagious virus spread through coughing and sneezing that can live for up to two hours in the air. Symptoms of measles include fever, a red blotchy rash, red watery eyes, and white spots in the mouth.

Measles is prevented by vaccination, and Ontario’s Routine Immunization Schedule includes two doses of the highly effective measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines for children before the age of seven years.

“Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, some children have had delays of their routine childhood immunizations, which includes the MMR vaccination, and leaves them at risk of contracting measles,” said Dr. Natalie Bocking, the medical officer of health and CEO at the HKPR District Health Unit.

“With the rise in measles cases, we’d like to remind and encourage people to ensure all your immunizations are up to date, including the MMR vaccine,

particularly before traveling internationally this March break.”

Due to the increased risk of exposure when travelling internationally, public health officials recommend travelers be aware of the signs and symptoms of measles. Eligible people who are not up to date with their measles vaccination should get a dose of the MMR vaccine. Those eligible people are infants six to 11 months who will be travelling, and any child who missed their first and/or second dose of the MMR vaccine. Adults 18 years old and older who have previously received one dose of MMR vaccine should get a second jab if they are health care workers, post-secondary students, planning to travel, or based on their doctor’s recommendation.

“No matter where you plan to travel, make sure you check the travel health notices page for your destination to ensure you can be prepared and protected from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Bocking said.

“It is important to monitor your health before, during, and after your trip. By planning ahead and ensuring you and your children are fully vaccinated, you can enjoy your vacation knowing you all have the best protection.”