Measles in Montreal

Public health officials are trying to track down people who may have been in a clinic waiting room with a person who has measles.

Montreal's regional health board has issued a call of vigilance as measles is a highly contagious viral disease.

"Measles is extremely dangerous, and people have forgotten how serious this disease can be. Approximately one or two out of every thousand people that get infected, will develop complications and may die," said Dr. Mitch Shulman, CJAD 800 medical contributor.

Measles usually starts with a high fever, cough, a runny nose, tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth, and a maculopapular rash — a flat, red area on the skin that is covered in bumps.

"Complications (vary from) ear-aches, to pneumonia, to severe diarrhea , to swelling of the brain, seizures, and death... literally death," Shulman added.

It is believed that the person contracted the disease in Poland, then traveled to Minsk, Belarus.

Once in Minsk, Belarus the person got onto a plane to Montreal via Frankfurt, Germany. 

The plane also stopped in Toronto.

Once the person arrived to Montreal, they visited two clinics — on January 28 and 30. The clinics were not named.

The health board warns that people who are not adequately vaccinated may show signs of measles.

"(Measles) is completely preventable, that's the other frightening and bothersome thing about what we see happening right now," Shulman said.

"You vaccinate and people are protected."

The Public Health Agency of Canada says there are large measles outbreaks reported across Europe. 

They say there's been at least one case of measles in Canada prior to this. 

It was reported in British Columbia earlier this year, the disease in that case was imported from the Philippines.

And, in the United States there are 79 confirmed cases of measles in 2019 already. In 2018, there were 372.

"It's a disease that only exists in people, so if we got people vaccinated, we could wipe it out like we did with smallpox and yet here we have it again," said Shulman.

"Why? It's all because that people who should be vaccinated — or vaccinating their children — are not. Entirely, completely, the fault of those people at this point," he added.

Due to how contagious the disease is, those showing symptoms should stay home and contact a medical clinic or 8-1-1 immediately.

Health Canada urges those looking to travel — especially to Europe and Venezuela — to first consult the travel health notices.