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County health departments warn of measles outbreak in Montreal

Families planning a trip to Montreal might want to check their vaccination status first.

There is a measles outbreak in Montreal, leading to warnings from local county health departments.

Measles began to spread there in June, Essex County Public Health educator Andrea Whitmarsh said.

“We wanted to get the word out,” she said.

Essex was one of three northern counties to send out warnings for those traveling to Montreal.

She is not worried about those who choose to skip the MMR vaccination. She’s thinking about babies.

“The issue is, you can’t be vaccinated until you’re 12 months of age. Also, people that are immune-compromised” can’t be vaccinated, she said. “It’s that pocket of very young children that are at risk.”

But she urged everyone else to get vaccinated, if they are not, and to check to make sure they’ve had two MMR shots.

“I just got one,” she added. “There’s really no risk to having another one.”

In Montreal, the Quebec Ministry of Health announced that a person who later came down with measles had been in the Feline Tunnel at Parc Safari, a popular tourist attraction.

The ministry warned that anyone who was in that tunnel on July 12 from 1 to 3:15 p.m. could have been exposed to measles.

Unvaccinated people need to get the vaccination within seven days of exposure.

The ministry has been reporting locations for each measles case. They include public pools, buses, coffee shops and restaurants, beginning on June 26.

“McDonald’s, pharmacies, all sorts of places,” Whitmarsh said.

She added that people should not panic and noted that there has been an outbreak downstate since October 2018.

“You know, anyone could be exposed at any time,” she said.

There is a simple solution.

“Make sure you’re vaccinated and your children are vaccinated,” she said.

A doctor stoked fears of the MMR vaccine in 1998. Dr. Andrew Wakefield filed a patent application for a new product to protect against measles and then published in a scientific journal a study claiming MMR could lead to autism. Later, the journal investigated the study and found he had made up the results he reported. The journal retracted the story, and studies on thousands of children have found no link between autism and vaccinations. But the damage was done and many parents continue to refuse vaccinations, particularly MMR, for their children.

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