Montreal

MUHC says no new cases of measles after exposure concerns

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) put out a warning to patients and staff Sunday afternoon informing them about a possible measles exposure at the hospital at the end of last month.

Hospital official says situation is being monitored after employee was confirmed to have measles

The measles virus is transmitted through the air or by direct contact (face to face) with an infected person. (CBC)

There have been no more confirmed cases of measles after exposure concerns led the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) to issue a warning about the virus this weekend.

Last Friday, authorities confirmed an employee at the Glen site had contracted measles. That person worked at the hospital from March 23 to March 27, during the incubation period.

The MUHC put out a warning to patients and staff Sunday afternoon, informing them they may have been exposed to measles if they visited certain locations at the Glen site in that time period.

However, there is no evidence so far disease has been transmitted to others, said MUHC infectious diseases specialist Dr. Marie-Astrid Lefebvre on Monday. The hospital will continue to monitor the situation.

"We are very reassured that so far there have been no more secondary cases, because of the majority of people exposed were immunized against measles."

What to watch for

The virus is transmitted through the air or by direct contact (face to face) with an infected person.

Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, stuffy nose, red and watery eyes, and tiny white spots in the mouth.

Two to four days after the onset of symptoms, a rash including pimples and red spots appears, first on the face, then on the torso, arms and legs, for three to seven days.

If someone who might have been exposed was not immunized, Lefebvre says to call the telephone line the hospital has dedicated to this issue at 514-934-8007, and stay home until the end of the incubation period.

On average, that period lasts seven to 14 days.

Employee likely contracted measles in Caribbean

Even though the employee had been immunized twice, as per the Quebec standard, he had travelled to the Caribbean three weeks earlier. The MUHC believes that's where the person caught the disease.

"There is a small percentage of people for whom the vaccine doesn't work, and with age the protection level can wane," Lefebvre said.

Dr. Marie-Astrid Lefebvre, an infectious diseases specialist, spoke in the atrium of the research institute of the MUHC, at the Glen site. (CBC)

After they were diagnosed, he was told to return home and not come back until he was no longer contagious.

The person did not take public transportation or go to any public areas while he was unwell, and so there are no concerns about wider public exposure, Lefebvre said.

The employee is back at work — doctors  believe he got better more quickly because he had been vaccinated and had partial immunity, she said.

Lefebvre urged Quebecers to get themselves vaccinated, calling the situation "a good wake up call for the population as a whole."

"When we have vaccine opposers in the community, it always makes us worried that it could propagate [infectious diseases] further."

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