SIMCOE, MARCH 18, 2015- The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is currently working with a local employer after being notified that one of their workers tested positive for measles. This person likely caught measles while travelling abroad. An investigation is currently underway to identify and contact those persons exposed so that they can seek any necessary medical treatment and limit the potential spread of the disease. “Fortunately, this is not a concern for persons up-to-date on their measles vaccination and the worker who tested positive was only working for a very brief time where they were considered infective and able to transmit the virus to others” notes Dr. Malcolm Lock, Acting Medical Officer of Health for the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “Measles should be taken seriously and we will be looking into all possible exposures both within and outside the workplace” added Dr. Lock.
Ontario has experienced recent measles activity and some health units neighbouring Haldimand have already reported confirmed cases. Although the number of positive cases still remains low in Ontario, public health authorities must act fast to limit the spread of this highly contagious airborne virus. In fact, measles is considered so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people in close contact with that person who are not immune will also become infected.
Measles is spread predominantly through air when someone inhales the throat or nasal discharges from an infected person. The virus can even live for up to two hours in the air or on a surface where an infected person has coughed or sneezed. Those infected can transmit the virus to people who are not immune four days before and four days after a rash appears on the person infected. Symptoms develop approximately ten days after exposure (7 to 21 days) and include fever, a red blotchy rash, red watery eyes, and Koplik (white) spots in the mouth. Serious complications include pneumonia, brain damage and even death. Pregnant women are also at risk of low birth weight, premature birth and miscarriage if infected. People believing they have measles should seek medical treatment but must call the healthcare provider ahead of visiting them in order to allow staff to take any necessary precautionary measures.
Fortunately, a free and effective vaccine is available. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit continues to provide vaccination clinics where the measles vaccine is administered. Visit the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s website at www.hnhu.org for the most up-to-date vaccination clinic times and additional information on measles.
For inquiries regarding measles, the public is asked to contact the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s Measles Hotline at 519-426-6170 Ext 3214.
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Dr. Malcolm Lock
Acting Medical Officer of Health
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
(519)426-6170 Ext. 3260