Travel-related measles case confirmed in Toronto

Others may have been exposed when a family travelled through Pearson International Airport

Toronto Public Health is investigating a confirmed case of measles and warning that some people may have been exposed to the highly contagious virus.

Dr. Vinita Dubey, the city’s associate medical officer of health, said Tuesday the case involves an unvaccinated infant under 12 months of age whose parents sought medical care for the child after the family recently returned home from a trip abroad.

For privacy reasons, TPH is not identifying the family, the infant’s exact age or sex, or what country was visited.

While the family did travel through Pearson International Airport, the infant was not showing any symptoms of measles and was deemed not to have been contagious at the time.

READ MORE: No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

Because of the incubation period, no one in the airport or on the flight to Toronto was at risk of contracting the virus, Dubey said.

“So this infant was exposed either at the source country or through travel … and the symptoms only develop seven to 21 days later, so you can travel, be exposed, but be incubating and not be contagious,” she said.

The infection begins with cold-like symptoms — fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes — so doctors may not recognize it as measles, especially because there is a gap between those signs and onset of the rash, said Dubey.

The infant’s rash started on Feb. 26, about a week after the family returned home, she said. The parents took their child to a health clinic that day, followed by a return visit two days later, then sought care at a Toronto hospital’s emergency department, potentially exposing staff and patients in both locations to the disease.

TPH says those two locations are: Huntingdale Medical Centre on Feb. 26 between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., and Feb. 28 between 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and the Scarborough Health Network, Birchmount site, Feb. 28 between 5 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Dr. Dick Zoutman, chief of staff at the Scarborough Health Network, where the child was examined, said tests confirmed the infant was infected with measles — a disease he called “more infectious than Ebola.”

The hospital then alerted TPH, which over the weekend began contacting about 100 patients and staff at the health clinic and hospital who may have been exposed to the virus.

This was followed by a notice to Toronto-area doctors advising them to be on the alert for anyone presenting with the key symptoms of measles and to take steps to isolate them from other patients and staff.

Dubey said anyone who may have been exposed should watch for signs and symptoms of measles. If symptoms develop, the individual should call before going to a health provider to prevent possible exposure for others.

“We know that measles is circulating in Canada and beyond,” said Dubey, referring in part to an outbreak in B.C. that also began with a travel-related case.

“And we expect to see travel-related cases as March break is approaching,” she said, adding that anyone six months of age or older should be inoculated with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine before travelling.

READ MORE: 53 cases of measles confirmed in southern Washington state

“I think that’s one of our main messages from this case … to tell parents that if they’re travelling with an infant six to 12 months of age to consider getting the child vaccinated early.” The first of two doses of the vaccine is usually given at about 12 months of age, but can be given as early as six months, she said.

Dubey said this is Toronto’s first measles case of 2019. Home-grown cases were eradicated in Canada in 1998, but there are occasional outbreaks related to travel to countries where the virus is endemic. Toronto, for example, records about five travel-related cases on average each year.

Sheryl Ubelacker, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Despite some soggy weather, fireworks capped off Canada Day in Stettler

The skies above West Stettler Park were lit up to help celebrate the nation’s birthday

Red Deer remains at two active COVID-19 cases

Alberta confirms 94 new cases over past two days

Stettler Board of Trade continues to help businesses navigate challenging times

‘Christmas in July’ is another current means of encouraging folks to ‘shop local’

A look back – marking the opening of the new Town Office on the corner of Main Street and 49th Ave. in 1966

The opening was attended by deputy premiere A. J. Hooke, who acted as the main speaker at the ceremony

Organizers behind the Stettler history book project seeking more input

Committee members are available to assist with story development

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Canadian engineer released from Egypt needs treatment, family says

Canadian engineer released from Egypt needs treatment, family says

Inquiry into mass shooting in Nova Scotia facing delays due to ‘technicalities’

Inquiry into mass shooting in Nova Scotia facing delays due to ‘technicalities’

Quebec tractor driver charged after accident kills three children, injures seven

Quebec tractor driver charged after accident kills three children, injures seven

Military member arrested after truck rammed gate near Trudeau residence: RCMP

Military member arrested after truck rammed gate near Trudeau residence: RCMP

UK to end quarantine for travellers from ‘low-risk’ countries

UK to end quarantine for travellers from ‘low-risk’ countries

Officials: Students in Alabama threw COVID contest parties

Officials: Students in Alabama threw COVID contest parties

Texas governor issues mask order to fight coronavirus

Texas governor issues mask order to fight coronavirus

Feds extend COVID-19 isolation order for anyone entering Canada until Aug. 31

Feds extend COVID-19 isolation order for anyone entering Canada until Aug. 31

Most Read