Quebec measles outbreak grows to 119 confirmed cases including student

The number of measles cases in Quebec's Lanaudière region has jumped to 119 and includes a student who attends the St-Pierre elementary school.

Lanaudière public health says child attended school while contagious

Up to 700 students and staff members are at risk of contracting measles after a student attended École intégrée de Saint-Pierre while contagious 3:29

The number of measles cases in Quebec's Lanaudière region has jumped to 119 and includes a student who attends the École intégrée de Saint-Pierre.

Up to 700 students and staff members are potentially at risk of contracting measles after a student attended the school while contagious. 

The elementary school has a pre-kindergarten program, meaning children as young as four attend the school.

Dr. Muriel Lafarge with the local health authority said the department was notified of the situation at the school yesterday.

Public health officials in Quebec's Lanaudière region said all of the 119 measles cases are tied to the outbreak at Disneyland. (Valentin Flauraud/Reuters)

Three pavilions at the school are concerned: Wilfrid Gervais, St-Pierre and Marie-Charlotte.

School says vaccinate or stay away

Lafarge said a protocol has been put in place to mitigate the risk.

The protocol involves identifying all the unvaccinated people at the school and offering them the vaccine.

Fifty-one staff and 114 students were identified Tuesday as not being fully vaccinated and health authorities began contacting them.

All staff and students will have their vaccination records checked, information will be offered to parents and vaccinations will be offered Thursday.

Anyone who refuses to be vaccinated will be required to stay home for two weeks.

"I invite the people, the parents to make sure their children are vaccinated. It's a protection for their child, but for all the people around," said Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois.

However, Charlebois said that since 91 per cent of the region's general population is supposedly vaccinated, the school is better protected than the group affected by the outbreak.

All 119 cases related

Yesterday, officials with the Lanaudière public health department announced there were 80 confirmed cases of measles in the region. All of the people infected with the disease were unvaccinated.

Dr. Joane Désilets said measles is highly contagious, which explains why it has spread so quickly in the Lanaudière region. (CBC)

The first Quebecers to contract measles were exposed while visiting Disneyland in California. Public health officials said Wednesday that all of the 119 cases are related.

The confirmed cases are children or adults from the same religious community called L'esprit Saint — who were not vaccinated. 

“As of our last news conference on Feb. 21, we were at 19 cases. As of today, March 11, we are at 119 cases,” said Dr. Joane Désilets.

She said that the jump in numbers of cases is a testament to how contagious the disease is. She said it's very easy to pass along to friends, family members, co-workers and students.

Désilets says the increase was not unexpected given the group in question includes about 20 families, each with between seven and 10 children. 

Measles is a highly contagious infection that causes high fever, a distinctive rash and a runny nose. Complications can include pneumonia, deafness and death in about one or two cases per 1,000 infected individuals.

A member of the L'esprit Saint religious community told the CBC that their prophet warns against vaccines, claiming they can lead to serious illnesses.

With files from the Canadian Press


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