Measles advice for Canadians

Woman blowing her nose

The Government of Canada has released a level 1 travel health notice regarding measles in the US, advising Canadian travellers to practise the usual health precautions. It reiterates that, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), five measles outbreaks have been reported in the US in 2019; three in New York, one in Washington and one in Texas. These outbreaks have been linked to travellers who brought measles back from other countries where large outbreaks are occurring, such as Israel and Ukraine.

As we well know by now, measles is a highly contagious disease that is spread by direct contact and through droplets in the air. It circulates in most regions of the world but does not naturally circulate in Canada. However, cases have been reported in travellers to Canada from countries where measles is a concern. Travellers who have not previously had measles or have not received the age-appropriate recommended doses of the measles vaccine are at an increased risk.

Travellers are advised to consult a healthcare professional or visit a travel health clinic six weeks before they depart on their trip. The Government of Canada reiterated that vaccination is the most important measure travellers can take to protect themselves from measles infection. Additional measures that can and should be taken are covering the mouth and nose when sneezing (with your elbow rather than your hand) and disposing of tissues as soon as possible – you don’t want those germ-infested rags lying about!

It is also important for travellers to monitor their health and see a healthcare professional if they develop symptoms of measles when travelling.