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Possible Measles Exposure at MUHC

Montreal public health officials recently notified the MUHC that an employee at "The Glen site"who has contracted the measles virus had worked at the MUHC's "Glen Site" during the "incubation period" which was likely between March 23 and March 27th.

Measles is caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family and it is normally passed through direct contact and through the air. According to the World Health Organization, the virus infects the respiratory tract, then spreads throughout the body.

Measles is a human disease and is not known to occur in animals.

The first sign of measles is usually a high fever, which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus, and lasts 4 to 7 days.

A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage.

After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck.

Over about 3 days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet.

The rash lasts for 5 to 6 days, and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of 7 to 18 days). Two to four days after the onset of symptoms, a rash including pimples and red spots appears, first on the face, then on the trunk, arms and legs, for three to seven days.

Measles can cause serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Complications are more common in people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and children under one year of age. In pregnant women, measles can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, or a low birth weight baby.

There is no cure for the measles virus. The treatment is meant to relieve symptoms and to prevent severe complications.

Most people fully recover from the measles within 2 or 3 weeks.

If you have measles, you should avoid contact with others as much as possible. This will help to limit the spread of the virus to other people.

According to the MUHC's communiqué, you are "considered" protected against measles if:

You were born before 1970 You were born in or after 1980 and you Have written proof that you have received two doses of the measles vaccine (MMR)* You were born between 1970 and 1979 and you have written proof that you have received 1 dose of measles vaccine (MMR), except for pregnant women (for whom two doses are required) OR You have a medical attestation that you had the disease before January 1, 1996 * Vaccine doses must have been received at 1 year of age or older with a minimum interval of 4 weeks between doses

If you are immune, you have nothing else to do.

If you are showing symptoms of measles, contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible and describe your symptoms over the phone. Because measles is so contagious, follow their instructions so that they can arrange to see you without exposing others to the virus.

Currently, there are three active cases of measles in Canada. Twenty-eight (28) cases of measles have been reported in Canada in 2019 according to gov't statistics. These cases were reported by Québec, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Ontario, and Alberta.

The World Health Orgaizations says that though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available, in 2017, there were 110 000 measles deaths globally, mostly among children under the age of five. Measles vaccination resulted in a 80% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2017 worldwide.In 2017, about 85% of the world's children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000. During 2000-2017, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 21.1 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.

Globally, there are large measles outbreaks which have affected a large number of countries. Canadians travelling outside of Canada are invited to consult the travel health notices for more information. Measles remains a common disease in many parts of the world. Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of getting infected when they travel internationally. Make sure you and your family are up to date with measles vaccination.

MUHC photo CC BY-SA 3.0/Jeangagnon

Disclaimer: The information on this website is provided for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal, medical or other professional advice. All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-diagnosis or treatment based on anything you have seen or read on this website.

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