Several outbreaks have been reported in Canada since early 2019, including the one declared in June 2019 in the Greater Montreal Area. Measles is present in other parts of the world, in particular in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In recent years, there have been large active measles outbreaks in several European countries and in some states in the United States.
For each measles case reported in Québec, a public health investigation is conducted in order to determine the source of the infection and to identify people who may have been exposed to the measles virus.
Preventive treatment of people exposed to the measles virus limits the spread of the disease.
People at risk
Some people have a higher risk of complications if they catch measles. They should be assessed promptly so that they can be given preventive treatment if they were exposed to the measles virus. Preventive treatment, which consists of an injection of antibodies, must be provided within 7 days of exposure.
People at risk of complications are:
babies under one year old;
people with a weakened immune system;
pregnant women who are not adequately vaccinated against measles.
People who are not at risk of complications must watch out for symptoms if they were exposed to the measles virus, especially if they are not vaccinated.
The main symptoms of measles are a high fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and general discomfort, followed by a rash on the face and then on the body.
Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against measles. Some people are considered protected against measles. If you are not considered protected, you should get vaccinated. If you are not sure that you have had the vaccines you need to protect yourself against measles, you can contact Info-Santé at 811.
People who are considered protected
The following people are considered protected against measles:
People born before 1970.
People who have serology showing antibodies to measles.
People who have a medical certificate confirming that they had measles before January 1, 1996.
People who have written evidence of vaccination against measles. The number of doses required to consider people protected varies:
people born after 1980;
people born between 1970 and 1979 who are interns or health care workers, travellers in countries where measles circulates or military recruits.
1 dose: people born between 1970 and 1979 who are not interns or health workers, travellers in countries where measles circulates or military recruits.
Pregnant women born between 1970 and 1979 who received only 1 dose of vaccine against measles should receive Immunoglobulins following significant exposure to measles.
Different criteria may be used in other provinces or countries to determine whether or not a person is protected.
If you are not sure that you have had the vaccines you need to protect yourself against measles, contact Info-Santé 811.