Public Health Notice: Measles brought back to Canada by travellers

Released: 25 March 2013

Why you should take note

Two Canadians --one from Ontario, the other from New Brunswick -- who had travelled outside Canada, became infected with measles. They were not vaccinated against the disease. The disease spread to two other New Brunswickers -- also not vaccinated against measles -- who were close contacts of one of the two individuals.

Measles is a highly infectious disease that, in rare cases, can cause serious illness, including brain damage, and even death.

Measles is relatively rare in Canada due to effective immunization programs; Canadians are reminded to keep their immunizations up-to-date.

Imported cases of measles occur because the disease is common in many countries. It is highly contagious and easily transmitted among people who have not been vaccinated against it.

The Canadians who contracted measles had stayed at a resort in Mexico, where it is likely they were infected by another traveller.

Symptoms / Signs

Symptoms of measles begin 7 to 18 days after infection and include fever, runny nose, drowsiness, irritability and red eyes. Small white spots can appear on the inside of the mouth and throat. Then, 3 to 7 days after the start of the symptoms, a red, blotchy rash appears on the face and then progresses down the body. Complications can include diarrhea, pneumonia and infections of the brain.

What you should do

Get immunized. Immunization is the best defense against measles and other vaccine preventable diseases.

If you have been in contact with someone who has contracted measles, or have recently travelled and you develop symptoms similar to measles when you return to Canada, you should see a health care provider. Describe your symptoms to your health care provider before your appointment, so that he/she can arrange to see you without exposing others to measles.

How to protect yourself

Measles can be prevented by immunization. Canadians are reminded to keep all vaccinations up-to-date. Ask your health care provider for more information about recommended immunization schedules for you and your children (adults born in or after 1970 should ensure that they have received two doses of the vaccine that prevents measles). For information on areas where measles is common or where large outbreaks are occurring, visit Measles: Global Update.

Additional information

Media Contact

Public Health Agency of Canada
Media Relations
(613) 941-8189

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