New measles cases in Victoria prompt vaccination reminder
People who have not been immunised, especially children and healthcare workers, are at high risk of measles infection. (Supplied: Centres for Disease Control)
Victorian health authorities are urging the public to watch for measles symptoms after two confirmed cases, while also warning of numerous exposure sites around Melbourne.
- Health officials say a teenager in Melbourne’s south-west has been isolated
- A returned overseas traveller may have been infectious at several sites around Melbourne in early February
- Authorities say the measles cases are a timely reminder for people to check their vaccination records
In the latest case, health officials said a teenage girl in Point Cook in Melbourne’s south-west had been isolated and was recovering in a private residence.
Authorities said all appropriate family and school contacts including students and staff had been contacted and provided with information about the illness.
They said the teen had recently been to the Philippines.
They also said that in an unrelated case a returned overseas traveller may have been infectious while visiting public sites in Point Cook, Southbank and Melbourne Airport between February 4 and 8.
The man, aged in his 20s, had recently returned from a trip to India.
Victoria’s Acting Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Sutton, said unvaccinated people were at the highest risk of contracting measles.
“People need to have received two doses of measles-containing vaccine to be fully protected,” he said.
“Many adults have only received one vaccine against measles and therefore most cases are in this age group.”
Check vaccination records, authorities urge
“Most people born before 1966 will have been exposed to measles in childhood, and therefore will be protected,” Dr Sutton said.
“This means if you are an adult born in or after 1966, especially if you are planning travel overseas, you may be susceptible and should contact your GP to get vaccinated — and a free Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine is available.”
Victorian health officials said there had been an increase in measles cases globally, including large outbreaks in Europe, Asia and the Americas over the past year.
Authorities said measles vaccination must be considered for international travel, just like any other travel vaccine and the latest Victorian cases provided a timely reminder for people to check their vaccination records.
Free measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is available for adults born during or since 1966. (Reuters: Lucy Nicholson )
Measles is a very contagious viral illness that causes a skin rash and fever.
It can potentially cause serious, sometimes fatal, complications including pneumonia and encephalitis.
Measles is rare in Australia because of the widespread use of the measles vaccine, but vaccination is important because people coming from overseas can carry the virus.
Dr Sutton said anyone with signs and symptoms of measles should be tested and notified to the health department.
The signs and symptoms of measles may include:
- General discomfort, illness or lack of wellbeing (malaise)
- Runny nose
- Dry cough
- Sore and red eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Red and bluish spots inside the mouth (Koplik’s spots)
- Red and blotchy skin rash that appears first on the face and hairline, and then spreads to the body.
People who are at increased risk of potentially fatal measles complications include anyone with a chronic illness and children aged under five.