Canada adds more cities to measles outbreak as vaccine rates drop

Several of Canada’s largest cities have ramped up their efforts to vaccinate infants and children in light of the measles outbreak that has sickened dozens of people in a handful of major cities this month.

Toronto was added to the list of affected areas on Sunday, with health officials tracking 108 cases in Ontario. The city has vowed to ramp up efforts to vaccinate children, particularly of vulnerable groups, as part of an initiative to defend against the disease.

“It’s really obvious that our system is under stress in certain areas and there are pockets of the city that are susceptible to certain diseases,” York Region Health Officer George Fisher told the Toronto Star. “Therefore what we need to do is put our focus on trying to identify and identify those people.”

Fisher also vowed to try to persuade the province to make the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella – known as COVID-19 – mandatory.

Up to 8,000 doses of the vaccine are currently being stockpiled, at a cost of more than $1 million, The Star reported.

Health officials were also expecting more people to come forward after Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced Sunday that immunization rates have dropped in Hamilton, in addition to Toronto.

The province turned away the first refugee from Liberia, a 33-year-old woman with a member of her family who recently suffered from an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, according to the Globe and Mail.

Meanwhile, a group of wealthy Calgary, Alberta, residents announced Friday that they will sponsor 25 refugee families from the West African nation of Ghana.

The United Nations World Health Organization estimates that more than 500 million people are infected with measles globally, and the disease kills about 300,000 children every year.

About two out of three people infected with measles recover fully, but for those with compromised immune systems, such as children and people with HIV, the disease can lead to serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis and death.

Complications from measles can lead to quadriplegia in children and from respiratory failure in adults.

Fox News’ Viniana Duarte contributed to this report.

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