Stacy Manzerolle, Manager Healthy Schools
Lora Piccinin, Manager Infectious Disease Prevention
Measles is a serious and highly contagious virus that spreads easily when an infected person coughs or sneezes, spreading droplets that contain the virus into the air. The virus can live on surfaces (e.g., door knobs, shopping carts, utensils, etc.) and can remain active in the air for up to 2 hours even after the person has left the air space. If people breathe in contaminated air or touch infected surfaces, they can become infected. Symptoms can include a rash, fever and cough. Measles can spread to others 4 days before or after the appearance of the rash. In some instances, measles can cause long-term complications in the lungs, ears and/or the brain and can lead to death in vulnerable individuals.
In Canada, measles is relatively rare due to high immunization rates across the country. Children in Ontario are scheduled to receive two doses of measles containing vaccine before the age of seven. Endemic measles has been eliminated in Canada; however, travel related cases continue to occur. Immunization is the best way to protect against becoming infected with measles. Those who have received two doses of measles-containing vaccine as a child, or who have been previously infected with measles, are generally protected from the virus. The measles vaccine is free for anyone who lives, works, or attends school in Ontario.
There have been no confirmed cases of measles since 1998 in Windsor and Essex County. In 2017, 8 cases of measles were reported in Ontario. In recent months some areas of Canada and the U.S. have reported an increase in the number of confirmed measles cases.
- As of March 30th, 2019, 33 cases of measles have been reported in Canada (Quebec, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Ontario and Alberta)
- In Ontario, cases have been reported in Toronto, Ottawa and Kingston
- In the US, outbreaks have been declared in the state of Michigan, New York and Washington
Due to the growing number of measles cases within North America and growing awareness and concern, the WECHU has investigated a number of suspect measles reports within the community. Historically 1-2 cases are investigated per year; however, since January 2019, the Health Unit has investigated seven possible cases of measles, all determined to be negative.
To assist health care providers and community partners, the WECHU has developed and disseminated clinical information updates and supporting documents to guide diagnostic testing, reporting, and management of suspected measles cases. Further information is available on our website.
The WECHU continues to work closely with local health care providers to monitor the situation and address the potential spread of measles and other reportable infectious diseases. The Health Unit will continue to keep the community informed about measles related activity within the region to ensure the ongoing protection of the health and wellbeing of our residents.