Mar 16, 2015

Measles spike: 119 cases confirmed northeast of Montreal

Andrea Janus 
March 11, 2015

The number of measles cases in a community northeast of Montreal has spiked to 119 and the disease is spreading among people who have not been vaccinated, health officials said Wednesday.

Health officials in Quebec’s Lanaudiere region told reporters Wednesday that an infected student attended Ecole integree de Saint-Pierre while still contagious.

The disease has spread among large families where no one has been vaccinated, infectious disease specialist Dr. Joane Desilets said.

“You need to understand that measles is so contagious that if you have a case in a family of 10, they will all have it, since none of them have received the vaccine,” Desilets said.

Twelve patients had to be hospitalized, she said, although most have since been released. Two patients suffered complications, including pneumonia.

In order to contain the further spread of measles, Desilets said patients, their families and their close contacts were asked to stay home for two weeks.

But because some people who have come in contact with infected patients may have been out in public before knowing they were exposed, officials expect the number of cases to continue to grow.

Meanwhile, the vaccination records of all students and staff at the school have been reviewed, and those who may be vulnerable to the disease were called on Tuesday evening.

As many as 114 students and 51 staff members appear not to have been vaccinated or may not have received a booster.

Information kits went out to parents on Wednesday, while vaccinations will be offered at the school on Thursday.

No one is obligated to vaccinate, but if they refuse, they will have to leave the school for a period of 14 days from the last known case.

The vaccination rate in Lanaudiere, among babies aged 12 to 24 months, is 91 per cent, Desilets added.

The number of cases in the region has spiked from the 32 reported late last month. They have been traced back to an outbreak that began at Disneyland in California.

The Quebec cases have been traced to one child from the Holy Spirit Mission community in Crabtree, Que., who had visited Disneyland. Many of the close-knit spiritual community are unvaccinated.

Community member Emmanuel Francoeur’s eight children caught the measles.

He says his family is not “anti-vaccination,” but they practice “a pro-natural way” of life.

“For some cases, it would be a good idea,” he said.

With files from The Canadian Press