Measles Outbreaks – Some Guidance For Concerned Parents
There have been a number of recent measles cases reported in Ontario cities over the past few weeks including Toronto (1 case), Hamilton (3 cases), Ottawa (4 cases), Waterloo (1 case) and London (2 cases). All of these cases have related directly to travel to the Philippines, Thailand, and Europe. A number of concerned parents have been contacting us asking for advice regarding what they can do to keep their children/babies safe. Although this situation is very fluid and can evolve fairly quickly and unpredictably, here is some general advice to consider at this moment in time:
1. Don’t panic.
These are not large outbreaks. Unless a child comes in contact with one of these infected individuals, there is virtually no chance of contracting the disease and the chance of this kind of contact is exceedingly low. So at this point in time, unless there’s good reason to believe that you or your child has come into contact with any of these particular infected individuals, there’s really no cause for concern.
Of course, if any of these outbreaks grow and spread more aggressively through the province and into your town/city, then the situation changes. In that case, your local public health unit will get activated and will provide clear instruction regarding 1) how to keep safe, 2) how to prevent spread, and 3) how to get assessed if you are concerned that you or your child may have symptoms of measles. Click here for a list of the public health offices in Ontario for up-to-date information and directives.
2. Get everyone up to date on their measles vaccine.
Make sure that you and everyone in your family and social circles is up to date on the measles vaccine. Everyone over the age of 4 should have been immunized with the MMR vaccine twice. Everyone between 1 year old and 4 years old should have had at least 1 MMR vaccine. Vaccination is the best way to proactively keep ourselves and our communities safe from the spread of measles.
3. Take special precautions for babies less than 1 year old.
If you have a baby less than 1 year old, then s/he has likely not yet received a measles vaccine and may not be immune to measles. It is probably worthwhile making the effort to ensure that anyone and everyone who comes in contact with the baby be up to date on their vaccines. This is called vaccine cocooning. If any person is not up to date, consider saying something like “if you want to spend time with my baby, you’ll have to get your vaccinations up to date”.
4. Speak with your primary care practitioner (pediatrician, family doctor, nurse practitioner, etc).
If you have any specific questions or concerns, it’s important to communicate with your primary care practitioner. He or she is in the best position to help.
I hope that this helps to put things into perspective. I will update this blog as needed should the situation substantially change. If you have any questions or comments, do feel free to write them below.