Surveillance of measles

Find out how measles is monitored.

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How does Canada monitor measles?

As a nationally reportable disease in Canada, surveillance of measles is conducted by public health professionals in provinces and territories. They report cases to the Government of Canada (GC) through systems at the federal level.

Cases are reported by health care providers to public health units if the patient:

  • presents with symptoms and are laboratory-confirmed
  • has a known link to a laboratory-confirmed case

More information on the national case definition can be found by following the links below:

National enhanced surveillance of measles is conducted through the Canadian Measles/Rubella Surveillance System (CMRSS). This system involves weekly collection of enhanced measles data from 10 provinces and territories. This allows timely monitoring of measles elimination in Canada.

The other 3 provinces and territories are participating in a pilot surveillance system. The Measles and Rubella Surveillance (MARS) pilot was implemented in May 2011. MARS is a web-based surveillance application. It supports real-time notification of measles case investigations to:

  • measles laboratory and epidemiology stakeholders at the GC
  • within provinces and territories

Genotype surveillance is conducted by the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML). The laboratory is a World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization-accredited measles and rubella regional reference laboratory. Genotyping is an important tool in measles surveillance for 2 key reasons:

  • it is the only way to distinguish clinical illness due to vaccine, as opposed to a wild-type measles virus infection
  • it allows for the differentiation between chains of measles transmission

Genotype results from the NML are incorporated into CMRSS and MARS.

Measles cases are summarized annually in the Canadian Notifiable Disease Surveillance System.

In addition, the Measles and Rubella Weekly Monitoring Report summarizes the information collected through the CMRSS and MARS surveillance systems on a weekly basis.

For more information on measles epidemiology, transmission, prevention and control, refer to the For health professionals section.

For more information

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