By Robert Frank
With several cases of measles diagnosed in neighbouring Lanaudière region, Laval’s regional health authority (ASSS) last week reminded doctors and other health care professionals to remain vigilant to symptoms of the potentially dangerous disease arising here.
“We alerted the health care network to the potential measles risk,” ASSS spokeswoman Stéphanie Daigneault told The Suburban. “If there is an outbreak we will be aware of it and act accordingly.”
Standard signs of measles—cough, runny nose and pink eye—are often brushed off as cold symptoms and ignored until its telltale red spots start to appear.
The measles vaccine wiped out the disease in North America after it was introduced in 1963. However, ignorance and credulousness has let the illness creep back from abroad because parents don’t bother to inoculate their children—or have listened to unfounded urban legends that claim the vaccine is harmful.
“It’s voluntary in Quebec,” Daigneault confirmed. “Children are usually vaccinated twice, six months apart, at 12 and 18 months. Parents have to sign a refusal if they don’t want their kids vaccinated.”
The vaccine is administered free of charge to adults and children and is available through your family doctor or local CLSC heath centre.
“If you’re not sure whether or not you have been vaccinated, you can call the Info Santé health line by dialling 811 to find out,” she said.
The standard vaccination also conveys immunity to rubella and mumps—another disease that has seen a recent recrudescence—notably striking several National Hockey League players last year.
Quebec’s health ministry has actively fought to keep the three diseases at bay for more than a decade.
From 2001 through 2012, the province waged a major vaccination campaign in primary and secondary schools, inoculating nearly 1 million Quebec youth.
Quebec’s last big measles outbreak infected nearly 800 people in 2011, reportedly the heaviest toll in North America.
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