The Public Health Department for the Lanaudiere region of Quebec confirms that 136 cases of measles have been reported as of Friday. This is up from 119 cases just a few days ago.
Health officials expect the number of confirmed cases to increase as more contacts are monitored. In addition, they say the cases are all linked and are all unvaccinated people.
In neighboring Ontario, health minister Eric Hoskins said Thursday, “We are now — knock on wood — we are measles free in the province.”
The incubation period for measles is between seven and 21 days, so with the last case being reported Feb. 20, CBC News reports.
The latest measles data from Ontario has the case count at 18.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Also, measles virus can live for up to two hours on a surface or in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed, public health officials note.
Symptoms of measles begin 7 – 21 days after exposure to a case of measles and include fever, runny nose, cough, drowsiness, irritability and red eyes. Small white spots can appear on the inside of the mouth and throat, but are not always present. Then, 3 – 7 days after the start of the symptoms, a red blotchy rash appears on the face and then progresses down the body.
Most people fully recover from measles within 2 to 3 weeks. But measles can sometimes cause complications, such as pneumonia, hearing loss, brain swelling (encephalitis), seizures, or, very rarely, even death.
Measles can be prevented with immunization. Two measles-containing vaccines are available; a combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and a combined measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine.
The MMR and MMRV vaccines are part of the routine publicly funded vaccines available free in Canada.