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Quebec measles cases: What you need to know

02/11/2015 01:35 EST | Updated 04/13/2015 05:59 EDT
What happened? 

Ten people in the province’s Lanaudière region, northeast of Montreal, contracted measles local health officials confirmed on Wednesday.

None of the 10 had been vaccinated and all of them knew each other. Officials wouldn’t say if whether the infected individuals were children or adults.

The cases are believed to be linked to a recent outbreak at the Disneyland theme park in California, which has led to 114 cases in seven U.S. states.

The increased number of measles cases is being blamed in part on parents not vaccinating their children.

What exactly is measles?

Measles is a highly contagious infection that causes high fever, a distinctive rash and a runny nose; complications can include pneumonia, deafness and death in about one or two cases per 1,000 infected individuals.

It’s spread through direct contact, through the air when a person coughs or sneezes, and by touching objects that were recently exposed to infected mucus or saliva.

Measles can survive up to two hours in the air, even if the contagious person has left the space.

What are the risks?

Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, but it’s rare in Canada.

Since the introduction of a vaccine in the 1960s, the number of cases in Canada has declined dramatically.

There is no treatment for measles and most people recover within two to three weeks, though complications can arise.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends people drink lots of fluids, eat healthy foods and get plenty of rest.

How is it prevented?

Measles can be prevented with two doses of vaccine, including the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) immunization or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) immunization.

In Quebec, the needle vaccine is given to children first at 12 months and then a booster is given at 18 months.

One dose of the vaccine isn’t sufficient to guard against the infection, health officials say.

In 2011, Quebec was hit with the biggest outbreak of measles in North America, recording nearly 700 cases. At that time, doctors said many of those cases were people who had not received the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

A major vaccination program was launched, but doctors said there are still parents who choose not to vaccinate their children.

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