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Ontario has 8 confirmed cases of measles, surpassing 2023 total

With the latest case of measles, identified in a child who recently travelled through Toronto Pearson International Airport, Ontario has more confirmed infections in the first few months of 2024 than all of last year.

Hamilton Public Health Services confirmed the case was in a child who had acquired the illness during a recent trip to India.

The child is isolating and recovering at home, officials said.

The agency says that members of the public may have been exposed to the illness while on a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight, number SV 61 from Jeddah, on March 5. The plane left Jeddah at 9:40 a.m. local time and landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport around 3:25 p.m. EST.

Officials also say that individuals in Terminal 3 of the airport between 3:25 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. may also have been exposed.

“Hamilton Public Health Services is not aware of any additional exposure locations in Hamilton at this time,” officials said in a news release issued Wednesday.

Measles is a highly contagious, with symptoms that include red rashes, fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and fatigue. Individuals can also get unusual white spots in their mouths.

According to Public Health Ontario, there have been eight lab-confirmed cases of measles reported in Ontario so far in 2024. Of those infections, six were related to travel and two had an unknown source of exposure.

In 2023, there were seven cases of measles confirmed in Ontario.

The cases with an unknown source are in individuals with no history or travel or no epidemiological link with a confirmed case.

As of early March, 17 cases of measles have been identified in Canada. Five of those cases were found in Ontario, with the case in Hamilton counting as the province’s sixth case.

A ‘unique’ case in York Region was confirmed in a vaccinated adult and health experts say they must have contracted it from somewhere in his community, hinting at small-scale “sporadic” community transmission of the disease.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health previously warned public health units to prepare for more cases and “potential outbreaks” amid a rise of infection in Europe.

Despite this, health experts also note there is not yet widespread community transmission, likely due to measles vaccine coverage.

Public health agencies are urging members of the public to check their immunization records to ensure they and other family members are up to date with their measles vaccinations. Two doses are required.