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.

Just Posted

Study projects First Nations’ intake of essential nutrients will decrease by 31 per cent

Professors project the nutrient decrease by 2050 if climate change mitigation continues as-is

CityWest to reopen its Kitimat office

The company anticipates growth in demand for services with LNG Canada’s project

Astronaut’s visit uplifts Telegraph Creek

Chris Hadfield visit part of field research on world’s first electric polar-exploration vehicle

Concerns rise as B.C. search and rescue funding set to expire

Kitimat SAR is one of 80 search-and-rescue groups that will be affected

Benefits alliance to hire fulltime manager

Its goal is more money from the province for local governments

Defiant vigil starts healing in New Zealand after massacre

Police say the gunman in the shooting that killed 50 acted alone

Facebook announces changes to political advertising to meet new federal rules

Bill C-76 bans the use of money from foreign entities to conduct partisan campaigns

National Arts Centre spotlights Indigenous and female artists in upcoming season

Other musical offerings include a salute to Canada’s Indigenous composers

Travel expected to be slowed by fallout from fire at Toronto’s Pearson airport

All U.S.-bound flights from Terminal 1 were cancelled Sunday night after the fire broke out near a security checkpoint

Trudeau fills vacancy in cabinet with B.C. MP Joyce Murray

Murray, 64, was elected in 2008 and served previously as a minister in B.C.’s provincial government

Leivo nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Stars 3-2

Schaller scores first 2 goals of season for Vancouver

UBC study shows honey bees can help monitor pollution in cities

Scientists analyzed beehives in high density urban areas to those off on Galiano Island

Most Read