Department of Health

New measles case in Victoria - 21 December 2022

Health alert

Status:
Active
Alert number:
221221
Date issued:
20 Dec 2022
Issued by:
Professor Brett Sutton, Chief Health Officer
Issued to:
Health professionals and the Victorian community

Key messages

  • A new case of measles has been identified in a returned overseas traveller. 
  • The case was infectious on their return flight from Bangkok, Thailand to Melbourne and at multiple exposure sites in Melbourne between 12 to 19 December 2022. 
  • People who attended the listed exposure sites during the specified dates and times are advised to monitor for symptoms of measles. Symptoms can develop 7 to 18 days after exposure. 
  • Anyone who develops symptoms of measles should seek medical care. Wear a mask and call ahead to make sure you can be isolated from others. 
  • Healthcare professionals should be alert for measles in patients presenting with fever and rash, particularly if they were overseas or attended a listed exposure site during the specified period. People with compatible illness should be tested, advised to isolate, and notified to the Department of Health.  
  • Offer free measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to all people born during or since 1966 who do not have documentation that they have received two doses of measles containing vaccines. Vaccinate all individuals who are unsure of their vaccination history, regardless of Medicare status. 
  • There is no need to check serology prior to vaccination.
  • Anyone planning overseas travel should ensure they have received vaccinations appropriate for travel.
  • Be aware that the initial symptoms of measles are similar to that of COVID-19 and influenza. If a patient has a negative COVID-19 test, but develops a rash, consider measles. 

What is the issue?

A case of measles has been identified in an overseas traveller. There have now been 6 cases of measles reported in Victoria since 1 January 2022. Following the re-opening of international borders any overseas travel could lead to exposure to measles at the current time. Outbreaks of measles have been recently reported in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the USA. 

The table below is a summary of public exposure sites for the current measles case in Victoria.

Date

Time

Location

Monitor for onset of symptoms up to

Monday, 12 December 2022 

Departed: Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, 11 December, 1820hrs 

Arrived: Monday, 12 December at 0710hrs 

Thai Airways Flight TG 465 
Bangkok, Thailand to Melbourne 

Friday, 30 December 2022 

Monday, 12 December 2022 

 7:10 am to 9:30 am 

Melbourne Airport - International Arrivals, Tullamarine, VIC 3045 

Friday, 30 December 2022 

Monday, 12 December 2022  4:00 pm to 4:30 pm  Public train - Craigieburn line 
Ascot Vale Station towards Craigieburn
Friday, 30 December 2022 
Monday, 12 December 2022  4:10 pm to 5.05 pm 

Fresh on Young - 
34-38 Young St, Moonee Ponds VIC 3039 

Friday, 30 December 2022 

Monday, 12 December 2022 

4:25 pm to 5:15 pm   Woolworths Moonee Ponds - 13 Pratt Street, Moonee Ponds VIC 3039  Friday, 30 December 2022 

Monday, 12 December 2022 

4:50 pm to 5:55 pm  Public Bus - line 472 
Moonee Ponds towards Williamstown  
Friday, 30 December 2022 

Tuesday, 13 December 2022 

5:30 pm to 6:00 pm   Public Bus - line 472 
Ascot Vale to Moonee Ponds 
Saturday, 31 December 2022 

Tuesday, 13 December 2022 

5:50 pm to 6:35 pm  Umiyaki Moonee Ponds 
21 Pratt St, Moonee Ponds VIC 3039 
Saturday, 31 December 2022 

Tuesday, 13 December 2022 

6:00 pm to 6:45 pm   Woolworths Moonee Ponds - 13 Pratt Street, Moonee Ponds VIC 3039  Saturday, 31 December 2022

Tuesday, 13 December 2022 

6:20 pm to 6:55 pm   Moonee Ponds Central Shopping Centre - 
14-16 Hall St, Moonee Ponds VIC 3039 
Saturday, 31 December 2022 

Tuesday, 13 December 2022 

6:20 pm to 7:05 pm  Aldi Moonee Ponds 
14-16 Hall St, Moonee Ponds VIC 3039
Saturday, 31 December 2022 
Tuesday, 13 December 2022  6:35 pm to 7:25 pm 

Public Bus- line 472 
Moonee Ponds towards Williamstown

Saturday, 31 December 2022

Friday, 16 December 2022 

3:15 pm to 4:00 pm Public Bus – line 472 
Moonee Ponds towards Williamstown 
Tuesday, 3 January 2023 

Anyone who presents with signs and symptoms compatible with measles should be tested and notified to the Department of Health. There should be an especially high level of suspicion if they have travelled overseas or visited any of the areas listed above and are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated for measles.

Who is at risk?

Any person born during or since 1966 and who does not have documented evidence of receiving two doses of a measles-containing vaccine or does not have documented evidence of immunity, is at risk. 

Unvaccinated infants are at particularly high risk of contracting measles. Infants as young as six months of age can receive MMR vaccine prior to travel overseas to countries where measles is endemic, or where measles outbreaks are occurring. The first dose of MMR vaccine is usually given at 12 months of age as part of the National Immunisation Program Schedule (NIP). If an infant receives an early dose of MMR vaccine (e.g., at 8 months) prior to travelling overseas, they are still required to receive their routine 12 month and 18 months doses in line with the NIP schedule. MMR vaccine is free for infants aged 6 to 12 months travelling to measles affected areas.

Symptoms and transmission

Clinical features of measles include prodromal fever, a severe cough, conjunctivitis and coryza, followed by a maculopapular rash usually starting on the face. It is important to be mindful that initial symptoms of measles may be similar to those of COVID-19 and influenza. If a symptomatic patient has a negative COVID-19 and/ or influenza test, they should continue to isolate and be tested for measles if they develop a rash. 

People with measles are potentially infectious from around five days before, to four days after, the appearance of the rash.

Measles is highly infectious and can persist in the environment for up to two hours.

An image showing a person with measles. The rash is across their neck and shoulders
An image of a child with measles. The rash covers the lower half of his face including chin.

These pictures are typical of a measles rash.

Recommendations

For the general public

People who attended the listed exposure sites during the specified dates and times may have been exposed to measles and should monitor for symptoms. 

Anyone who develops symptoms of measles should seek medical care. Ensure to call the health service beforehand and wear a mask.

It is important to stay up to date with your vaccinations. Anyone planning overseas travel should receive vaccination appropriate for travel. 

For health professionals

Free measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is available for people susceptible to measles. People who are not Medicare eligible can also receive the free MMR vaccine. Serology is not required before vaccinating. 

A person is potentially susceptible, if they were born after 1966 and do not have documented evidence of receiving two doses of a measles-containing vaccine or do not have documented evidence of immunity. Anyone planning overseas travel should ensure they have received vaccinations appropriate for that travel.

General practices and emergency departments are recommended to:

  • Be alert for measles infection – ensure all staff, especially triage nurses, have a high index of suspicion for measles in patients presenting with a febrile rash.
  • Notify suspected cases immediately to the Department of Health via telephone on 1300 651 160 (Discuss the need for nose and throat swabs for PCR diagnosis with the department. PCR testing for measles does not attract a Medicare rebate. 
  • Take blood for measles serology in all suspected cases
  • Minimise the risk of measles transmission within your department/practice:
    • avoid keeping patients with a febrile rash illness in shared waiting areas
    • give the suspected case a single-use face mask and isolate them, until a measles diagnosis can be excluded
    • leave vacant all consultation rooms used in the assessment of patients with suspected measles for at least 30 minutes after the consultation.

Reviewed 20 December 2022

Health.vic

Contact details

Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Department of Health

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