Thursday,  May 23, 2019  1:21 am

Health Canada warns of large measles outbreak across Europe


Health Canada warns of large measles outbreak across Europe
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch: christine@paxglobalmedia.com.

Almost 20 million Canadians claimed European heritage in the 2016 Census.

According to the European Travel Commission, by the end of 2018, Canadian arrivals to Europe jumped by six per cent, representing 6.2 million travellers to the continent. In fact, Canada remains the largest overseas source market for Europe, after the U.S. and China.

With springtime in full swing, many Canadians are packing their bags and exploring everything Europe has to offer.

Health Canada has issued a reminder to Canadian travellers heading to Europe, after several large measles outbreaks were recently reported in eight European countries.

1,000 cases and counting

Large measles outbreaks of more than 1,000 cases are currently ongoing in Albania, France, Georgia, Italy, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and the Ukraine.

Since the beginning of 2019, measles outbreaks have also been reported in: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Kosovo, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The current advisory is a Level 1, which means travellers should practice normal precautions, such as vaccinating against measles.

Those who cannot be vaccinated, such as newborns or the elderly, should be aware of the risks associated to countries where measles outbreaks are prevalent.

Measles on the rise

With international travel on the rise, there's plenty of opportunity for contagious diseases to spread.

In May 2018, Toronto Public Health warned of a potential measles exposure at Toronto Pearson International Airport, linked to two flights aboard Saudi Arabia Airlines.

An alert was issued again earlier this year in February 2018 for Toronto Pearson International Airport, linked to an Air Canada flight and a Lufthansa flight, as well as a potential exposure in Terminal 1.

Measles is a highly contagious disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Early symptoms of measles include small, white spots inside the mouth and throat. After three to seven days, a red blotchy rash develops on the face and spreads down the body. Measles can be contagious from four days before until four days after after the rash appears.

An infected traveller can spread measles to groups of people who are not vaccinated and cause an outbreak in Canada.  

In some severe cases, measles can cause pneumonia (a serious lung infection), lifelong brain damage, deafness, and even death.


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