If you are planning to go on an overseas vacation this summer, make sure your measles vaccinations are up to date is the message Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s interim chief medical officer of health issued. Ensure measles immunizations are done and you get your shots six weeks before travelling because the disease continues to flourish in many parts of the world.
Measles a highly contagious disease that is easily spread and is prevalent in countries where vaccination rates aren’t high.
Measles is caused by a virus that can rapidly spread through person-to-person contact, via droplets in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or by touching objects recently exposed to infected mucus or saliva.
India has made important efforts and gains against measles in recent years. Measles deaths have declined by 51% from an estimated 100 000 in the year 2000 to 49 000 in 2015.
While home-grown cases have been eliminated in Canada — the last domestically acquired case was in 1997 — Canadians who are not vaccinated or under-vaccinated can still contract the disease through infected people who travel into this country, said Dr Tam.
Tam said there have been 10 confirmed cases of measles in Canada so far this year — all related to travel — and a few suspected cases are under investigation.
Three of those cases, confirmed by Toronto Public Health last month, are connected to people who travelled to or within Canada on WestJet or Emirates Airline flights in the last two weeks of March.
“It’s important to remember that measles has a long incubation period, up to 21 days, so we’re still in the period of time when people who are exposed to these three confirmed cases may come down with measles,” said Dr. Michael Finkelstein, associate medical officer of health for Toronto.
Initial symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and irritability. Small white spots may also appear inside the mouth and throat. Three to seven days later, a red blotchy rash develops on the face and spreads over the body.
Those who develop symptoms should seek medical attention, but call ahead before visiting their doctor, medical clinic or hospital emergency department so precautions can be taken to isolate them to prevent transmission to others.
Adults whose immunizations aren’t up to date should receive at least one dose of the vaccine, although two is preferable as some people don’t build up antibodies to the virus with a single dose, said Finkelstein.
If you aren’t sure about your own immunisation, visit your family doctor or the closest Walk-in health clinic. – CINEWS