Ontario's top doctor warns of potential measles outbreaks as cases increase abroad

Ontario's top doctor is warning public health officials in the province to prepare for possible measles outbreaks given the "dramatic rise" in cases in other parts of the world, including Europe.

In a memo to public health units, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore says that while measles is no longer common in Canada, outbreaks can happen when unvaccinated or otherwise susceptible people travel to and from countries where the virus is circulating.

He says there are currently four active cases of measles in Canada, two of them in Ontario -- in Toronto and Peel Region, specifically.

Moore says that with many people travelling over March break, health-care providers should encourage patients to make sure their immunizations are up to date.

He also recommends that some who are at higher risk of exposure -- such as those travelling to areas with increased transmission -- receive an additional dose, or an early dose in the case of infants.

Health-care providers are also urged to consider measles in their differential diagnoses, particularly in patients returning from travel who show respiratory symptoms.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press