JOLIETTE, Que. – Public health officials northeast of Montreal have confirmed a spike in the number of measles cases to 119, including one where a student attended school while contagious.
All of the cases are epidemiologically related and involved unvaccinated children and adults, the officials in the Lanaudiere region said Wednesday.
They have been traced to an outbreak at a California amusement park.
Dr. Muriel Lafarge, who heads the local health authority, said one student attended school on the last day before spring break and was still contagious.
Measles is highly contagious and causes fever, a distinctive red rash and a runny nose. While most people who become infected will only experience an unpleasant illness, the disease has a complication rate that is significant.
“The level of contact is varied — not all students had the same level of contact with the single case,” said Dr. Joane Desilets. “It’s one case in three pavilions, but given the level of contagion, we’re not taking any chances.”
The school has 700 students and staff spread across three pavilions. Fifty-one staff and 114 students were identified Tuesday as not being fully vaccinated and health authorities began contacting them.
All staff and students will have their vaccination records checked, information will be offered to parents and vaccinations will be offered Thursday.
Anyone who refuses to be vaccinated will be required to stay home for two weeks.
All the Quebec cases are part of one chain of transmission that started when a person who became infected at Disneyland returned to the province.
Desilets says the increase was not unexpected given the group in question includes about 20 families, each with between seven and 10 children. All were unvaccinated.
There have also been 18 cases of measles confirmed in Ontario and a single case in Manitoba.