Three cases of measles have been confirmed in Burlington, the Halton Region Health Department said Monday.
All three cases are in children from one family who may have contracted it by travelling out of the province.
“There certainly have not been any measles cases circulating locally here, so travel exposure probably played into it,” Dr. Monir Taha, a spokesperson for the Halton health department, said.
The health authority advised that anyone who visited three locations in Burlington on Saturday, June 8 may have been exposed to the virus. The locations are SportChek at the Burlington Mall, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; The Collector’s Vault, near Guelph Line and Fairview St., from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Al’s Source for Sports, at 3485 Fairview St., from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The children affected visited those three locations at roughly the listed times.
Taha said other locations that the children visited, such as walk-in clinics and organized events, have registers that the health department consulted to track down people who may have been exposed.
Measles begins with symptoms that aren’t easily recognizable, Taha said, including a cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes, and a fever. After about four days, a rash begins on the face and moves down the body and white spots appear inside the mouth. The illness lasts for about eight to nine days as long as no complications arise.
It’s highly contagious for about eight days, from four days before the rashes first appear until four days after, but two doses of the vaccine leads to almost 100% immunity.
“Our concern would be for people that are not fully immune to measles,” meaning those who are not vaccinated, Taha said.
While vaccination rates began to drop in the United Kingdom and Europe, “in Canada, that’s not really the case,” Taha said, adding that Halton region has a fairly high vaccination rate for measles.
Taha said that in Canada, the disease is most common in late winter and spring, but as people travel to parts of the southern hemisphere where the seasons are reversed, that trend becomes less relevant.
“With air travel everything is just a plane ride away,” he said. “One has to be wary of it at any time.”