2nd measles case confirmed in Ottawa

Ottawa Public Health is investigating a second case of measles in the city but says it's unrelated to the case diagnosed last week.

New case 'associated with international travel,' not related to 1st case, OPH says

Ottawa Public Health is urging people to check their vaccination records after a second person was diagnosed with measles. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Public health officials are investigating a second case of measles in Ottawa, but say it's unrelated to another case diagnosed last week.

Like the previous case, the new case is "associated with international travel," Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said Sunday in a media release.

Ottawa Public Health was notified about the new case on Sunday after a woman appeared at the Ottawa Hospital, said Dr. Trevor Arnason, associate medical officer of health.

He would not confirm where the two patients had been travelling, but said measles outbreaks are occurring in multiple countries around the world.

"We're seeing outbreaks across North America. We're seeing outbreaks in Europe and many countries in Asia and Africa," he said.

Anyone travelling overseas should ensure they have all their vaccinations, including the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine, he said.

Restaurants, bus among possible exposure areas

With this latest case, people may have been exposed to the virus on the following dates at these locations:

  • The Loblaws grocery store at 100 McArthur Ave. on March 29, between 2:30 and 6 p.m.
  • OC Transpo route 12 that same night from 9:15 to 9:25 p.m., and then route 6 from 9:25 p.m. until 9:50 p.m.
  • O'Brien's Pub and Eatery at 1145 Heron Rd. on March 29 from 10 p.m. until 1:30 a.m.
  • The Coconut Lagoon Restaurant at 853 St. Laurent Blvd. on March 30 from 4:45 p.m. until 8 p.m.
  • The Shoppers Drug Mart and Dynacare Laboratory at 150 Montreal Rd. on April 1 from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
  • The emergency department of the Ottawa Hospital's general campus from 7:30 p.m. on April 2  until 7:45 p.m. on April 3.
  • The 7 West unit of the hospital from 5:45 p.m. on April 3 until 5:30 p.m. on April 4.

Coconut Lagoon owner Joe Thottungal said Ottawa Public Health contacted him on Sunday. He said he plans to continue operating his business as usual, and noted it's been nine days since the patient visited the restaurant.

"I cannot screen everybody who comes into my place. It is a busy place," Thottungal said.

None of his staff has complained of measles symptoms, and the restaurant is thoroughly cleaned every night, he said.

Thottungal said he hasn't heard from any worried customers, and said he can only hope that being on the health agency's list won't harm his business.

Pregnant women, babies at higher risk

The new case comes after an Ottawa man travelling abroad developed symptoms of the highly contagious respiratory disease.

Early symptoms include fever, cough, or tiny white spots in the mouth, followed by the characteristic blotchy rash three to seven days after the first symptoms appear.

Anyone who was at one of the above locations and falls into one of the categories below, OPH said, is at a higher risk of developing measles:

  • Born in or after 1970 and never received a measles-containing vaccine.
  • Has a weakened immune system.
  • Is pregnant.
  • Works in the health care or child care sector.
  • Had a child under the age of one with you when visiting one of the above locations.

"[The MMR vaccine] provides a fairly good immunity with a single dose of vaccine, but measles is so contagious that it was later learned that the best protection is two doses of vaccine."

People born between 1970 and the mid 1990s probably only received one dose, Arnason said.

He suggests people speak to their healthcare provider to find out whether they have received two doses of the vaccine.

Anyone who feels ill should isolate themselves, OPH said, and call their physician's office before coming down for a visit so that they can protect other patients.

While OPH said it "strongly" encourages people to vaccinate themselves against measles, people seeking the vaccine should not go to the hospital to get it.

With files from Kimberley Molina


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