Measles is a highly contagious, yet preventable, viral disease that can cause cough, fever and rash. Most people fully recover from the measles within 3 weeks, but measles can sometimes cause complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhea, hearing loss, brain swelling and seizures.
Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of those around him or her will also become infected unless they are protected by a vaccine or “natural immunity” from a previous measles infection.
Measles was thought to be eradicated in Canada in 1998, but since then has returned primarily due to people not being vaccinated. The best way to protect against measles is to get the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine.
In Ontario, it is recommended that the first dose of MMR vaccine be given at 12 months of age and a second dose of MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella and varicella) vaccine be given between 4 to 6 years of age. All children in Ontario are required to have two doses of measles-containing vaccine to attend school
Adults who have not had MMR vaccine can be immunized as well. The Publicly Funded Immunization Schedules for Ontario recommends that adults receive one dose of MMR vaccine. A second dose of MMR vaccine is also recommended for adults who are at high risk of being exposed or exposing others to the disease. If you are unsure of your measles immune status, a simple blood test can be ordered by your doctor.