The Gleaner

Local officials emphasize vigilance during measles outbreak

As of March 19, the Quebec government confirmed 28 cases of measles have been reported since the start of 2024, exposing several thousand individual to the highly contagious disease in Montreal, Laval, the Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec, as well as the Laurentides regions.

The Centre integré de santé et de services sociaux de la Montérégie-Ouest (CISSSMO) confirms there have been no cases reported in the region to date. The regional health authority is however reminding the public to be on the lookout for possible symptoms, and to follow public health recommendations.

Each measles case reported in Quebec triggers a public health investigation to determine the source of the infection and to identify those who may have been exposed to the virus. According to the Direction de santé publique de la Montérégie (DSPM), only two of the 28 cases identified originated outside of Quebec, which suggests the disease is being transmitted within the province. The DSPM confirms that many of those considered to have been in contact with the potentially serious disease reside in the Montérégie, and an operation is underway to reach out to those who may be at risk.

The government is also maintaining a list of places and dates where people may have been exposed to a confirmed case of measles as of February 21, including locations such as the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport, Montreal metro lines, as well as the Montreal Children’s Hospital, Ste-Justine Hospital, several daycares, different pharmacies, and businesses. The list is updated daily, and because the measles outbreak is a matter of public security, the information is available in English on the website.

Vaccination is key

The CISSSMO is reporting an increase in the number of requests for measles vaccinations at local points of service. Those born before 1970, those with a medical certificate confirming they had measles before January 1, 1996, and those who have been vaccinated against the virus are considered adequately protected. The Quebec government is strongly encouraging those who are not protected to get the vaccine.

Information about measles was recently sent directly to parents of school-age children by local school boards and service centres following a directive from the Ministry of Health and Social Services. A representative for the CISSMO also confirms that “Teams are making telephone calls and are preparing written communications to reach the parents of children whose vaccination status is incomplete.”

The measles vaccine is available as part of the provincial immunization program at vaccination clinics for children aged 12 to 24 months at CLSCs in the Haut-Saint-Laurent. It is also available free of charge by appointment to older children and adults who are considered unprotected at local points of service in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Mercier, Les Côteaux, Chateauguay, Vaudreuil-Dorion, and Lacolle. Appointments can be scheduled via the website, or by calling 1-877-817-5279.

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