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

Just Posted

Drugs, stolen bike and cheques seized during RCMP search in Castlegar

Two men were taken into police custody during the search warrant

Morning start: This is the fastest growing city in the Kootenays

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Monday, May 25

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Lock at Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar to open on May 23

The navigational lock will be open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Cullen commission into money laundering in British Columbia resumes today

Inquiry was called amid growing concern that illegal cash was helping fuel real estate, luxury car and gambling

Bike shops busier than ever, but owners worry about stock supply issues

Uptick in cyclists brings new challenges for shops

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

Most Read