NEWS

Quebec rushes to vaccinate against measles in Joliette

03/12/2015 11:53 EDT | Updated 05/12/2015 05:59 EDT
Public health officials in Quebec's Lanaudière region, where a measles outbreak has infected 119 people, are rushing to get a vaccination campaign underway at a local school after learning that an infected child visited it recently. 

Fifty-one staff and 114 students at École Intégrée de St-Pierre in Joliette, about 75 kilometres north of Montreal, have been identified as not being fully vaccinated against the illness.

On Wednesday, it was discovered that a child infected with measles attended the school on Feb. 27.

All staff and students have had their vaccination records checked, and health authorities have begun contacting those with incomplete or no measles immunization. 

École Intégrée de St-Pierre has children between the ages of four and 12.

Anyone who refuses to be vaccinated will be required to stay home for two weeks.

Outbreak began with eugenics community

The ongoing measles outbreak in the Lanaudière region has so far infected 119 people.

The outbreak began after two local families returned from Disneyland in early February, where they contracted the disease.

At least one of the two families who went to Disneyland belongs to the Esprit-Saint eugenics community just outside of Joliette.

A member of the Esprit-Saint Mission told CBC News reporter Thomas Daigle that vaccinations are against the community's beliefs and that their prophet warns them vaccines result in illness. The member confirmed the first cases of measles in the region originated with the community.

The Esprit-Saint eugenics group was founded by Eugène Richer Dit La Flèche in 1913. The community purports to live by and work toward spreading the message of the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

A former member of the community said it believes vaccines compromise people's immune systems, and that they feel protected by the spirit of Dit La Flèche, who died in 1925.

Public health officials said Wednesday they believe the number of infections will continue to climb.

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