10 cases of measles in Montreal and Laval: a call for vaccination to “limit the damage”

Due to 10 cases of measles confirmed in Quebec, Public Health is launching an urgent call for vaccination in order to contain the transmission of the highly contagious virus.

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“It can go up quickly, very quickly […]. “It’s now or never to go get the vaccine,” pleaded the national director of public health, Dr.r Luc Boileau, yesterday.

Even if around ten cases since the beginning of February seem few, the Dr Boileau emphasizes that Quebec is currently “Canada’s epicenter” for the spread of the virus.

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Montreal and Quebec

The cases have been recorded in Montreal and Laval, but the authorities are concerned about the low vaccination rates observed around the metropolis, in Montérégie, but also in Quebec.

Three cases of infection are directly linked to international travel and mainly affect children. For the moment, 14 environments have been exposed to measles (see Public Health table).

“Each case generates hundreds of contacts,” continued the Dr Boileau.

The regional director of public health of Montreal, the DD Mylène Drouin pointed out that some schools had poor vaccination rates, reaching only 30 to 50%.

On average, Montreal primary and secondary schools have rates of 80%, well below the 95% targeted for collective immunity. This low vaccination can be explained by less accessible vaccination in other countries, the hesitation of parents or vaccine fatigue after the pandemic, the doctors said at the press point.

Due to travel associated with spring break and the marked increase in cases in Europe, Public Health is asking Quebecers to protect themselves sooner rather than later.

“If we are able to limit the damage, we want to do it,” decided the DD Drouin.

Two doses

Furthermore, people born before 1970 are considered protected, due to the high circulation of the virus at the time.

All Quebecers who have already received two doses, normally at 12 then 18 months, are also immunized and are protected from serious complications, argued Caroline Quach-Thanh, pediatrician and microbiologist-infectious disease specialist at CHU Sainte-Justine.

The specialist indicated that the measles virus, which can persist in the ambient air and which is highly contagious, had enough complications for us to seek to avoid it. Measles can be serious for young children, pregnant women and people who are immunocompromised.

While it was still common several decades ago, around one in 3,000 patients died from it and one in 10 developed pneumonia. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, since there is no cure, she added.

In Quebec, a person is protected if…

  • She was born in 1980 and has had 2 doses of vaccine (from the age of 12 months);
  • She was born between 1970 and 1979, has already had measles and has proof of it or she received 1 or 2 doses of vaccine;
  • She was born before 1970, so she is considered protected, even without a vaccine.

Measles symptoms

  • Fever;
  • Cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis (red, light-sensitive eyes);
  • Pimples and/or redness on the skin (on the face, then all over the body);
  • A person who has measles is contagious four days before and four days after the spots appear. The illness lasts one to two weeks.

How to protect yourself

  • Make an appointment online on Clic-Santé or call your CLSC.
  • To avoid transmitting measles:
  1. Avoid using public transportation;
  2. Wear a mask;
  3. Contact your medical clinic or health facility in advance to inform staff of your arrival;
  4. If you go to the emergency room, notify the staff as soon as you arrive.

Source: Santé Montréal

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