Montreal's public health agency warns of possible measles exposure in 2 clinics

Santé Montréal has reached out to patients potentially exposed to measles after a woman infected with the virus visited two medical clinics in the city last week.

Patient who had recently travelled abroad diagnosed with measles, may have exposed others to viral disease

Health officials in Montreal are trying to identify anyone a patient with measles may have come in contact with. (CBC)

Montreal's public health agency has reached out to patients potentially exposed to measles after a woman infected with the virus visited two medical clinics in the city last week. 

Santé Montréal is also warning healthcare workers to be on the lookout for symptoms. 

The woman arrived in Montreal on Jan. 27 on a plane that had travelled through Frankfurt and Toronto, though the viral disease may have been caught in Poland, Santé Montréal says.

The patient went to two medical clinics on Jan. 28 and 30, during the contagious period of the illness.

Santé Montréal is not naming the two clinics, but the advisory applies to the CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal coverage area — which includes public clinics and hospitals in the Ville-Marie, Southwest, Verdun and Plateau-Mont-Royal boroughs.

Everyone who was in those clinics at the same time as the individual are being contacted by public health, said Eric Litvak, medical chief of infectious diseases with Montreal public health. 

Litvak said it is the agency's policy not to publicly name the clinics.

"What we're doing right now is tracing every person that may have been in contact with this individual to make sure they're fully protected against measles," said Litvak. 

For those found not to be protected, the agency will be working to ensure their immunization is updated, he said.

He said people in the general public shouldn't be worried, but those who do not have updated immunization should take the time to get vaccinated.

The first step has been to notify all healthcare workers to "raise their awareness and be sure to think of measles in case see anyone who may have compatible symptoms."

List of symptoms

Measles, the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in children worldwide, is a highly contagious viral disease transmitted through the air by droplets released when an infected person sneezes or coughs.

Symptoms can include fever, cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis and red spots all over the body. Complications, such as brain damage or death, are more frequent in infants, pregnant women and those with a compromised immune systems.

Given that the woman took multiple flights to get to Montreal and visited airports, Litvak, when asked, acknowledged it's true that hundreds of people may have come in contact with her.

He referred all questions about infections beyond Montreal to the provincial Ministry of Health, which did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.

This situation is a reminder for people to make sure all of their vaccinations are up to date, he said.

Call before going to clinic

Montreal public health advises people with symptoms are advised to call a medical clinic or healthcare facility to report their symptoms before going there in person.

The latest figures from the World Health Organization show that 2018 will be another (modern) record-setting year for the highly contagious disease. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

It is possible that other people, not adequately vaccinated, will show signs and symptoms compatible with measles in the coming weeks, the agency says. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against measles, it says.

People who are sick must stay home from work, school or social activities as soon as the first symptoms appear, and up to five days after the skin has broken out into a rash.

With files from Jay Turnbull


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