SIMCOE, MAY 27, 2011 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is reminding residents to be alert for the signs of measles following the notification of a local case of red measles. An investigation into a positive measles case in Toronto is currently ongoing; however, there is no known link between the cases at this time.
“Measles can be a severe infection and is very contagious if a person without immunity is exposed to an infected person,” said Stacey Guthrie, an Infection Control Practitioner with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “Families should be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with red measles.”
Symptoms of the illness, which begin within 21 days following exposure to the measles virus, usually begin with common cold symptoms such as fever, runny nose, drowsiness, sore throat, red eyes and a cough. The characteristic red, blotchy measles rash usually begins 3-7 days after the first symptoms, generally starting on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body.
The infection is contracted by breathing droplets in the air that contains the measles virus, often from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. Measles can also be spread by direct contact with the nose or throat secretions of an infected person.
“Children who have received the MMR vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella, are protected against the virus,” noted Guthrie. “The Health Unit recommends that all children who have not been immunized against measles receive the vaccine, either through their family doctor or an immunization clinic.”
The first dose of the MMR vaccine should be given on or shortly after a child’s first birthday, with a booster dose given at 18 months of age. The vaccine is also recommended for adults who are not immunized against measles, mumps and rubella.
The Health Unit is reminding locals that if anyone in your family displays symptoms of measles they should stay home and call your family physician to explain the symptoms that are being experienced. If immediate attention is required, call ahead before attending the emergency department, physicians’ office or walk in clinic. Scheduling the last appointment of the day is also preferred to avoid contact with others.
Infectious Disease Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3205 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623