Vaccination campaign will fight measles epidemic
Provincial health officials launched a vaccination campaign in Montreal Tuesday to prevent the spread of measles.
They said the virus has become an epidemic in Quebec.
In 2002, measles were declared eradicated from North America, but it has made a comeback in Quebec, where the number of cases has grown to 750 in the past few months.
Measles is a respiratory infection that begins much like a cold, but includes a red rash on the body. There can be more serious complications leading to hospitalization. In developed countries, including Canada, death is estimated to occur once in 3,000 cases.
Most of the people affected are between 10 and 19 years old and health officials said they are worried about how quickly the potentially deadly disease can spread in a school.
Health officials are asking parents of school-aged children to fill out a pamphlet, noting whether their child has had both doses of the vaccine.
Health officials estimate 35,000 children in Montreal will need one or both shots.
Nick Katalifos, the Principal of Pierre De Coubertin elementary school in St-Leonard, said he expects to start getting more calls from parents as pamphlets are sent out.
David Levine, president of the Montreal Health & Social Services Agency, says the virus is highly contagious and stays in the air for hours.
"You don't have to touch anything you just have to walk along and breathe -- having been in the same room as somebody else who has measles -- and the likelihood is, if you're not vaccinated, you're going to get measles," said Levine.
High School students will begin getting their shots after the holidays. After that, elementary school students will be vaccinated.