As many of you know, there has been a measles outbreak within a community in the Lanaudière region of Quebec. A total of 119 cases had been reported at the end of February, including one child who has exposed an elementary school community in Joliette.
In response to concerns at the beginning of the outbreak, the Unitarian Church of Montreal released a notice requesting that unvaccinated children refrain from attending church programs until this episode has passed. Since the release of this notice, we have carefully reviewed the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Measles Outbreaks in Canada and have decided to remove this alert for the following reasons:
- According to government guidelines, once a community is directly exposed to a case of measles, members of that community who are not vaccinated should either be vaccinated or remain home for up to 21 days after exposure.
- In Joliette, at the school that has been exposed, members of the school community who cannot or choose not to be vaccinated have been asked to remain home for two weeks.
- At the present time, our community has not been directly exposed to the measles. Since there has not been a direct exposure to measles within our surrounding community, and there are no public health alerts for schools or other public institutions in Montreal (except for an advisory for medical personnel to be vigilant in watching out for potential cases) we feel that we are now able to lift our alert — with the understanding that we may need to reinstate the alert should the current measles outbreak spread to our surrounding community.
A new set of guidelines for preventing the spread of measles has been developed and approved by the board:
UCM Guidelines for Preventing the Spread of Measles
We recognize that as in any open, public situation, we cannot fully control or guarantee safety from all communicable illness. However, we can do our best to promote health and safety as much as possible. Hence the following guidelines:
- If you suspect or know that you or the children in your family have been exposed to the measles, and you or they have not been vaccinated, please stay home for three weeks until the incubation and contagious periods have safely passed.
- Please notify our minister, our religious educator or our administrator immediately, if you or the children in your family have been exposed to the measles. Let them know if you have been in physical contact with UCM members.
- The Public Health Authority of Canada defines “contact” as any length of time “spent in a room or enclosed space with a confirmed measles case during that case’s infectious period (i.e. approximately 4 days before rash onset to 4 days after rash onset)” or time spent “in a room previously occupied by a measles case, during that case’s infectious period, within 2 hours after that individual left the room/space.”
- If there is an exposure in our community, the congregation will be notified as quickly as possible through e-mail and other means of communication.
- If cases of measles are reported in the city of Montreal or its environs, it is recommended that individuals take into consideration their own safety and the safety of others. Those who are immunocompromised should consult with their doctors about how to remain safe during an outbreak. It is recommended that those who were born after 1970 and are unvaccinated consult with their doctors about vaccination. (Those born before 1970 are considered immune through exposure or vaccination.)
- In the event of a local outbreak of measles, those who were born after 1970 and are not vaccinated will be asked to stay home for the length of time recommended by public health authorities. This will be done to protect the most vulnerable in our community, including those individuals, adults and children, who are immunocompromised, or are not or cannot be immunized.
- The UCM will do its best to encourage the Public Health Agency of Canada’s recommendations to minimize the spread of disease, including: immunization, practising good hand hygiene, avoiding sharing drinking glasses or utensils, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or forearm, and staying home when ill.
If you have any concerns or questions, please contact Rev. Diane Rollert, or members Petrina Lee Poy (whose area of expertise is public health) and Dr. Bob Barnes.
Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Measles Outbreaks in Canada (PDF
document - 1.27 MB - 59 pages)