Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Ontario Sees First Measles Death in Over a Decade

A young child has tragically died from measles in Ontario, marking the first death from the highly contagious virus in the province in more than ten years, according to a report from Public Health Ontario published on Thursday.

The child, who was under the age of five, was not immunized against measles. This incident underscores the critical importance of vaccination, particularly as the province has seen an uptick in measles cases in 2024. So far this year, Ontario has reported 22 confirmed cases of measles. Thirteen of these cases were in children, while nine were adults. Among the adults, four had been previously immunized, two were unimmunized, and two had an unknown immunization status.

The report highlights that the highest number of cases were reported by Toronto Public Health and public health officials in Hamilton, each confirming six cases. Five of these cases required hospitalization, all involving children under the age of nine who had not been vaccinated. The child who passed away was among those hospitalized.

Officials warn that measles, a highly infectious respiratory virus, spreads easily among those who are not immunized or have not previously had the disease. The virus poses a significant risk to infants, unimmunized pregnant individuals, and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, a red blotchy rash, red watery eyes, and cough.

Public Health Ontario notes that measles has been rare in the province, largely due to the successful elimination of the virus in Canada and high immunization coverage. However, due to an increase in global measles activity, Ontario has begun to see more cases. The report states, “Due to an increase in measles activity globally, Ontario has begun to see more cases of measles.”

From 2013 to 2023, Ontario reported 101 confirmed cases of measles. The last time the province saw more than 20 cases in a year was in 2014. The current increase in cases emphasizes the need for continued vigilance and immunization efforts.

Public Health Ontario urges all eligible individuals to ensure their vaccinations are up to date to protect themselves and the community from this highly contagious disease.

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