The Canadian province of Ontario continues to see a trickle of new measles cases this year. The number of cases reported since the beginning of the year has reached 13 with newly reported cases in Toronto and Niagara in the past day.
Of the 13 total cases recorded, the majority are from Toronto with nine. The remaining cases include two cases from the Niagara Region, and one each from York Region and Halton Region, according to the latest data from Ontario Public Health Feb.16. This compares to the 22 measles cases reported in the province during the entire 2014.
Of concern to public health officials is the possible measles exposure at the two-day Christian youth event in Toronto called “Acquire the Fire”. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care was advised today of a person with a newly-confirmed case of measles who had attended this event during the measles infectious period.
The gathering for the concert event has put some 1,300 people at risk of exposure to the very contagious virus prompting Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robin Williams to issue an advisory today. The concert was held in Toronto at Queensway Cathedral on February 6 and 7, 2015. A large number of youth from all over Ontario, as well as performers, volunteers and speakers attended this event.
Dr. Williams said most (98 percent) adolescents in Ontario are appropriately immunized with two doses of measles vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says one dose of measles-mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus, and two doses are about 97% effective.
A recent poll by the firm, Mainstreet Technologies shows that 67 percent of Ontarians want child care facilities to refuse unvaccinated children. However, according to the President of Mainstreet Technologies, Quito Maggi, other polling data reveal some problematic issues seen in Ontario and other Canadian provinces.
Thirty percent of the 3,022 people surveyed say parents should be able to decide against vaccinating their children. In addition, 20 percent agree vaccines could cause autism. These numbers are virtually identical to those seen in the United States.
A recent YouGov survey showed that a full 20 percent of adults under 30 polled believe that vaccines can cause autism. This compares to 11% of adults aged 45-64 and only 3% of those over 65 years.
The measles situation in the United States and elsewhere abroad prompted Canadian public health officials to issue a measles travel advisory in late January.
Measles or rubeola, is an acute highly communicable viral disease that is characterized by Koplik spots in the cheek or tongue very early in the disease. A couple of days later a red blotchy rash appears first on the face, and then spreads, lasting 4-7 days. Other symptoms include fever, cough and red watery eyes. The patient may be contagious from four days prior to the rash appearance to four days after rash appearance.
The disease is more severe in infants and adults. Complications from measles which is reported in up to 20% of people infected include; seizures, pneumonia, deafness and encephalitis.
Worldwide, according to new data published in the WHO Weekly Epidemiological Report, in 2013 there were an estimated 145,700 measles deaths.