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Dr. Carolyn Pim, Ottawa's associate medical officer of health, says doctors are being warned to look out for possible cases of the measles after a child with the virus was treated at CHEO last week. (CBC)

Doctors in Ottawa are watching out for possible cases of measles after a child with the virus was treated at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario last week.

Ottawa Public health is also following up with about 50 families who were in the CHEO emergency room when the child arrived and could have been exposed.

"We want to find out if they've been immunized, if they're susceptible to the disease, and encouraging them to be immunized if they're not fully protected right now," said Dr. Carolyn Pim, Ottawa's associate medical officer of health.

"Also, really, to watch for any signs or symptoms of measles and to seek medical attention if they develop any of those."

Measles symptoms

  • High fever, runny nose, cough, drowsiness, irritability and red eyes.
  • Small white spots may appear in the mouth and throat.
  • Three to seven days after the start of symptoms, a red blotchy rash begins to appear on the face and spreads down the body to the arms and legs.

Courtesy of Ottawa Public Health

The child, who is from Gatineau, likely contracted the virus from international travel, according to a letter sent by public health officials to local doctors.

The measles virus can take anywhere from a week to three weeks to develop.

Public health believes secondary cases could occur anytime until the end of July and it is asking doctors to keep an eye out for symptoms of the virus in their patients.

The last measles cases in Ottawa happened in 2011, Pim said, which was also from international travel.

"This really just underscores how important [immunization] is," Pim said. "We can think that we don't have measles here and then really at the drop of a hat you can be exposed to measles anywhere, even in places that you might not expect it."