This comes days after the US state of Washington declared a state of emergency due to their own measles outbreak, and just months after the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that measles cases were on the rise globally due to the anti-vax movement.
The infected woman was in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Jan. 27. Her plane went from Frankfurt to Toronto, but health officials from Santé Montréal said that she may have contracted the measles in Poland.
Peel Public Health is now urging anyone who may have been on her flights or in the terminal at the same time as her to check their immunization records and to be on the lookout for symptoms.
Following her flight, the woman went to two clinics on Jan. 28 and Jan. 30 in Montreal, according to Santé Montréal.
“What we're doing right now is tracing every person that may have been contact with this individual to make sure they're fully protected against measles,” Eric Litvak, medical chief of infectious diseases with Montreal public health, told CBC.
He added that Montreal public health will work to update the vaccinations for anyone they find who is not fully protected.
Measles symptoms can take up to 21 days to appear, but they usually take 10 to 12. They can include red eyes, runny nose, cough, and fever, but measles’ notorious symptom is a rash that usually shows up three to five days after contracting the virus.
While still common in many developing countries, Canada officially eliminated the measles in 1998.
Cases do sometimes pop up in the country, often due to infected travellers like in this case. Unknown immunization records can be problematic when it comes to properly and quickly diagnosing the virus.
Every year, more than 100,000 people die from the measles — most of which are children under the age of 5. Almost all deaths occur in low-income countries with poor health care systems.
Routine vaccination is essential in preventing these deaths. Immunization led to a decrease of 80% in measles-related deaths between 2000 and 2017, preventing an estimated 21.1 million deaths, according to the WHO.