Skip to content

Measles virus possibly circulating in Quebec, health officials say

As of Feb. 17, the Public Health Agency of Canada had recorded 6 domestic measles cases in 2024
Montreal’s public health agency says community transmission of the measles virus is possible after a person in the suburb of Laval contracted the disease despite not having travelled abroad or been in contact with another known case. Sainte-Justine Hospital is shown in Montreal, Wednesday, February 8, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

A measles case in suburban Montreal suggests there could be community transmission of the highly contagious virus in Quebec, health officials say.

In a notice sent to local health-care professionals on Thursday, the city’s public health agency said the case reported in Laval, Que., on Feb. 27 involved a person who had not travelled abroad, nor been in contact with another known case.

“Local community transmission is therefore possible,” the notice states.

Public health officials are now trying to reach people with whom the infected person may have had contact while still contagious. Among the public places the person visited during that time were an elementary school and convenience store in Laval, and the Sainte-Justine children’s hospital in Montreal.

The measles case is the third confirmed in Quebec in recent weeks, according to Quebec’s Health Department, which said in an emailed statement that the lack of connection to international travel in the recent infection “suggests that the measles virus could be circulating” in the province.

Montreal public health says the two other cases at the beginning of February involved a person who had travelled to Africa and a member of their family.

Those cases prompted Montreal public health director Dr. Mylène Drouin to send a letter to families and local school staff on Thursday urging them to check their measles vaccination status.

“The measles has a significant presence in many countries, including in North America,” the letter reads. “With the upcoming spring break and the resumption of travel, we must remain cautious.”

Drouin’s appeal echoed a statement from Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, last week in which she raised concern that a “global surge” in measles activity “could lead to an increase in imported measles cases, potentially resulting in transmission in communities in Canada.”

As of Feb. 17, the Public Health Agency of Canada had recorded six domestic measles cases this year.

Montreal public health is asking members of the public to ensure they are fully vaccinated against the virus.

Thomas MacDonald, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Growing number of parents ‘really against’ getting their kids vaccinated