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MEASLES UPDATE

- Local Residents Urged to Ensure Their Vaccinations are Up-to-Date to Protect Against Spread of Measles -

With measles circulating in parts of southern Ontario, local health officials are asking people to ensure they are up-to-date on their own immunizations.

As of today (February 11), no lab-confirmed cases of measles have been reported by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit in its area, which includes Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. However, measles cases have been confirmed in Toronto, Niagara Region and York Region.

While the risk posed by measles to most people is low, the Health Unit encourages area residents to take precautions by checking their vaccination records. Measles is a highly infectious disease that can particularly affect infants under one year of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

“Because measles can easily be spread from person-to-person, local residents are asked to check their records to ensure they and their family members are up-to-date on their vaccinations for measles,” says Anne Marie Holt, Director of Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology and Evaluation with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Vaccination against measles is the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

Currently in Ontario, protection against measles is provided in two doses of vaccine – both of which are publicly-funded. The first dose is given soon after a child’s first birthday as part of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine. The second dose of the vaccine is given to children just prior to entering school (between four and six years of age) as the MMRV vaccine (Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella).

People should check their records to ensure they have received both of these vaccines. If people are uncertain about the vaccines they have received, they can contact their health care provider or call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577.

Adults born before 1970 are generally presumed to have acquired natural immunity to measles, says Holt. However, some of these individuals may still be susceptible to measles, so they should watch for symptoms. Signs and symptoms of measles include high fever, runny nose, cough, drowsiness, irritability, soreness and redness of the eyes. One of the most noticeable signs of measles is a red blotchy rash that appears on the face and body.

If people suspect they have signs or symptoms of measles, they are urged to seek medical attention. “However, before going to a medical appointment, be sure to alert your health care provider that you may be showing symptoms of measles so that appropriate arrangements can be made,” Holt advises.

Vaccination against measles, as well as other diseases such as mumps, rubella and varicella, is required by law for all children attending school in Ontario, unless there is a valid exemption on file with the Health Unit.

For more information and updates about measles, people can visit the Health Unit’s website.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Anne Marie Holt, Director, Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology and Evaluation, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100

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