Windsor

'Probable' measles case in Chatham: exposure at Taco Bell, Walmart, hospital

The potential case comes days after a handful of cases were confirmed in the Detroit area.

The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit is waiting for lab confirmation

Chatham-Kent health unit is waiting for lab results for a suspected measles case. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

Just days after a handful of new cases of measles were confirmed in the Detroit area, there's now one "probable" case on this side of the border in Chatham.

The health unit was made aware of the potential for the measles case Sunday night. 

As the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit awaits lab confirmation, officials are trying to notify people who may have come in contact with the individual who's believed to be infected.

The health unit says people who have received two doses of the measles vaccine, or those previously infected with measles, or were born before 1970, are generally protected.

Here are the locations and times of possible exposures:

  • Taco Bell, 328 St. Clair St., Chatham, Ont.: March 19, 2019, 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
  • Walmart, 881 St. Clair St., Chatham, Ont.: March 19, 2019, 6 p.m.- 9:30 p.m.
  • Chatham-Kent Health Alliance — Sydenham Campus, 325 Margaret Ave., Wallaceburg, Ont.: March 24, 2019, 7 p.m. to March 25, 2019, 12:30 a.m.

The health unit is contacting people known to have been at the Wallaceburg hospital during that time.

"It's a highly probably case," said David Colby, medical officer of health for the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit. "There's a specific sign associated with measles and the patient had that. In my opinion that makes it highly probable and we can't afford the luxury of waiting until this is confirmed."

According to Colby, the health unit is not sure if they have identified all of the locations where exposure might have been possible.

Measles is highly contagious and is spread through the air, as well as through articles of clothing or bedding.

Complications can include infections of the ear or brain, and in rare cases, death.

Symptoms:

  • Fever, cough and runny nose.
  • Red, irritated eyes and light sensitivity.
  • Small white, grey or blue spots in the mouth.
  • Red, blotchy rash, which is the last symptom to appear.

"If we do nothing, there could be more cases," said Colby. "We're proceeding on the basis of the probability."

The health unit is hoping to receive confirmation and lab results by Wednesday at the latest. 

Colby said receiving the MMR vaccine within 72 hours of exposure has a high chance of preventing infection. 

Four cases of measles were identified in Detroit last week. 

Currently there is a labour disruption at Windsor-Essex County Health Unit where public health nurses have gone on strike since early March. 

The health unit has warned the public about potential cancelled services as a result of the strike.

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