BREAKING NEWS: Measles kills child under five in Ontario

May 17, 2024 | Headlines, News, Provincial News

A child under the age of five has died of measles in Ontario, the first death in the province related to the virus in more than a decade.

According to Public Health Ontario (PHO), five cases required hospitalization, all among unimmunized children, and among them, was a child less than five years old who died.

“Measles is a highly contagious respiratory virus. Symptoms of measles include fever, a red blotchy rash, red watery eyes and cough. Immunization is the best protection against measles,” the PHO said.

The PHO in its report has confirmed 22 measles cases in Ontario up to May 15, 2024.

Of the 22 cases, 13 were in children and nine were adults. Twelve of these children were unimmunized and one child’s immunization status was unknown.

Fifteen of these 22 cases were associated with travel and five have been epidemiologically linked while the reason for two is unknown.

The cases were reported in nine of the 34 public health units in the province.

The Toronto Public Health Unit and City of Hamilton Public Health Services reported the highest number of cases at six.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Winnipeg on May 17 to highlight the federal government’s plan to create a National School Food Program, where he spoke about the death due to measles in Ontario.

Trudeau called the child’s death “a tragedy that nobody wants to see.

“My best advice to all families is to listen to your physicians, talk with your doctors about what vaccinations are right for their kids,” he said. “This is a tragedy that nobody wants to see. I can’t imagine what that family is going through right now.”

Dr. Christopher Lagos, an epidemiologist and cardiologist, told Humber News that two vaccine doses will protect against measles.

“There are rare cases of people getting sick even though they are vaccinated, but that will usually be because they only had one dose or because of some other reason,” he said.

“While the vaccine is not 100 per cent effective in all circumstances, it is very nearly that,” Lagos said. “The proof is that when Canada had good vaccine coverage, measles disappeared.

“It only re-appears when vaccination rates fall and there are pockets of unvaccinated people who can become the source of an outbreak,” he said.

“Get vaccinated. Get two doses,” Lagos said, emphasizing the importance of vaccination.