Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Child Under 5 Dies of Measles in Ontario

A child under the age of five has died from measles, according to Hamilton’s public health agency.

In a release, Dr. Brendan Lew described it as ‘a profoundly tragic situation’ and said they will not be releasing additional details of the case to protect the privacy of the child and their family.

According to Public Health Ontario (PHO), it’s the first measles-related death in the province since 1989, when the government first began to track the disease.

In an update posted Thursday, PHO said the Hamilton child, whose specific age has not been disclosed, was not vaccinated against the disease.

Measles Cases Increasing

So far this year, the city has seen six confirmed cases of the infectious respiratory virus. According to Dr. Le, none of those who were sick from the disease were vaccinated.

measles A few weeks ago, the city’s public health agency warned individuals about a possible measles exposure at an apartment building, grocery store, and children’s hospital, after four people from the same household became infected with the measles virus.

Hamilton Health Sciences, which operates the pediatric hospital, said they could not confirm whether or not the child who died from the virus was being cared for at the facility due to privacy reasons.

Outside of Ontario, measles cases have also been on the rise. In Europe alone, tens of thousands of cases were seen over the past year.

According to PHO, Ontario has seen 22 cases so far this year, a level that matches the previous record set in 2014, with those infected all having been born after 1970.

measles vaccine
Two doses of the combined MMR vaccine is 97% effective at preventing the disease

Among those cases were 13 children, 12 of whom had not received the measles virus. The other child’s vaccination status was not clear.

Out of all the unvaccinated children affected, five of them were under the age of five and required medical care at the hospital.

Traveling Is a Big Factor

Due to high vaccination rates, measles is considered to be successfully eliminated in Canada. Because of this, most of the cases in Ontario are associated with travel.

PHO confirmed that out of the 22 measles cases, 15 were linked to travel.

According to infectious diseases consultant Dr. Isaac Bogoch, Canadians who plan on traveling abroad should make sure they are immunized and protected from the measles virus before flying. While the vaccine is not perfect, he emphasized that it’s ‘widely available, safe, and free’.

mmr vaccine He noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some children may have missed some of their routine childhood vaccinations, meaning they will not be completely protected from the virus.

In Canada, the typical immunization schedule is two doses, both administered prior to starting school. Ideally, the first dose of the combined MMR vaccine should be given between the age of 12 to 15 months while the second is given when they are 18 months (or anytime afterward, but no later than when they enter school).

For infants who will be traveling abroad with their parents, especially to places with high measles cases, the first dose can be moved up to six months.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.
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