Department of Health

Health alert

Status:
Active
Alert number:
270124
Date issued:
26 Jan 2024 - update to Alert issued on 24 January 2024
Issued by:
Dr Christian McGrath, Acting Chief Health Officer
Issued to:
Health professionals and the Victorian community

Key messages

  • Three cases of measles have been identified in overseas travellers within the last week in Victoria.
  • These cases attended multiple exposure sites in Melbourne and surrounds from 17 January 2024 while infectious.
  • Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can spread from person-to-person and potentially lead to serious health complications.
  • People who attended the listed exposure sites during the specified dates and times should monitor for symptoms of measles.
  • 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 with fever and rash, particularly those who were overseas or attended a listed exposure site during the specified period.
  • Suspected cases should be tested, advised to isolate, and notified to the Department of Health or relevant Local Public Health Unit immediately by calling 1300 651 160.
  • Anyone planning overseas travel should make sure they have received vaccinations appropriate for travel.
  • International travel may present a risk to anyone vulnerable to measles.
  • 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.

What is the issue?

Three cases of measles have been identified in returned overseas travellers in Victoria this week. Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can lead to uncommon but serious complications, such as pneumonia and brain inflammation (encephalitis).

Currently, any overseas travel could lead to exposure to measles. Outbreaks of measles have been recently reported in Asia (including Indonesia and India), Africa, Europe, and the USA.

These cases attended multiple public exposure sites in Melbourne and surrounds from 17 January 2024 while infectious. Public exposure sites for all recently infectious cases are listed in the table below.

DateTimeLocationMonitor for onset of symptoms up to
Wednesday, 17 January 20246:00 am - 3:00 pmBay City Auto Group (and associated construction site)
140 Dandenong Road West, Frankston, VIC 3199
Sunday, 4 February 2024
Wednesday, 17 January 20247:30 pm - 9:30 pmBox Hill Action Indoor Sports
9 Clarice Road, Box Hill, Victoria, 3128
Sunday, 4 February 2024
Thursday, 18 January 20246:00 am - 3:00 pmBay City Auto Group (and associated construction site)
140 Dandenong Road West, Frankston, VIC 3199
Monday, 5 February 2024
Friday, 19 January 20246:00 am - 3:00 pmBay City Auto Group (and associated construction site)
140 Dandenong Road West, Frankston, VIC 3199
Tuesday, 6 February 2024
Monday, 22 January 20245:30 pm - 7:20 pmCostco Ringwood
29 Bond Street, Ringwood VIC 3134
Friday, 9 February 2024
Tuesday, 23 January 202412:00 pm - 12:45 pmDFO South Wharf – shopping centre and carpark
20 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf VIC 3006
Saturday, 10 February 2024
Tuesday, 23 January 202412:15 pm - 12:30 pmDocklands Park Playground
1-47 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands VIC 3008
Saturday, 10 February 2024
Tuesday, 23 January 202412:40 pm - 1:40 pmCollins Square Food Court
727 Collins Street, Docklands VIC 3008
Saturday, 10 February 2024
Tuesday, 23 January 20241:10 pm - 1:40 pmTram 48 to North Balwyn from Stop 1 Spencer St/Collins St to Stop 5 Elizabeth St/Collins St #5Saturday, 10 February 2024
Tuesday, 23 January 20241:40 pm 3:35 pmSea Life Melbourne Aquarium
King St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Saturday, 10 February 2024
Tuesday, 23 January 20243:30 pm - 5.30 pmMelbourne River Cruises 4pm departure
Berth 2, Federation Wharf, Princes Walk, Melbourne VIC 3000
Saturday, 10 February 2024
Tuesday, 23 January 20245:30 pm - 6:00 pmTram 70 to Waterfront City Docklands. From Stop 6 Russell Street/Flinders Street to Stop D6-Victoria Police Centre/Flinders StSaturday, 10 February 2024
Tuesday, 23 January 20245:40 pm - 6:20 pmDFO South Wharf – carpark only
20 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf VIC 3006
Saturday, 10 February 2024

Anyone who has attended a listed exposure site during the specified date and time should monitor for symptoms and seek medical care if symptoms develop.

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 the site listed above and are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated for measles.

Who is at risk?

Anyone born during or since 1966 who does not have documented evidence of having received two doses of a measles-containing vaccine, or does not have documented evidence of immunity, is at risk of measles.

Unvaccinated infants are at particularly high risk of contracting measles.

Young infants, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system are at increased risk of serious complications from measles.

Symptoms and transmission

Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, sore or red eyes (conjunctivitis), runny nose, and feeling generally unwell, followed by a red maculopapular rash. The rash usually starts on the face before spreading down the body. Symptoms can develop between 7 to 18 days after exposure.

Initial symptoms of measles may be similar to those of COVID-19 and influenza. If a symptomatic person tests negative for COVID-19 and/or influenza but develops a rash, they should be advised to continue isolating and be tested for measles.

People with measles are potentially infectious from 24 hours prior to the onset of initial symptoms until 4 days after the rash appears. Measles is highly infectious and can spread through airborne droplets or contact with nose or throat secretions, as well as contaminated surfaces and objects. The measles virus can stay in the environment for up to 2 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

  • Anyone who attended a listed exposure site during the specified date and time may have been exposed to measles and should monitor for symptoms for up to 18 days after exposure.
  • Anyone who develops symptoms of measles should seek medical care. Call the health service beforehand to advise that you may have been exposed to measles and wear a mask.
  • The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine provides safe and effective protection against measles. The MMR vaccine is available for free:
    • on the National Immunisation Program, routinely given at 12 months and 18 months of age.
    • for anyone born during or after 1966 who have not already received two doses of measles-containing vaccine, are unsure of their vaccination status, or do not have evidence of immunity to measles.
    • for young infants aged 6 to 12 months prior to overseas travel to countries where measles is endemic or where outbreaks of measles are occurring. If an infant receives an early dose of MMR vaccine prior to travel, they should still receive routine doses at 12 months and 18 months of age as per the National Immunisation Program schedule.
    • For further information, speak to your immunisation provider.
  • Anyone planning overseas travel should make sure they have received appropriate travel vaccinations.

For health professionals

  • Clinicians are advised to be alert for measles in patients presenting with compatible illness, particularly those with overseas travel or who attended a listed exposure site during the specified dates and times or who are not fully vaccinated against measles.
  • Suspected cases should be tested, isolated, and notified to the Department of Health immediately by calling 1300 651 160 and connecting to the relevant Local Public Health Unit.
  • Discuss the need for PCR testing using nose and throat swabs with the Local Public Health Unit (PCR testing for measles does not attract a Medicare rebate).
  • Take blood samples for measles serology in all suspected cases.
  • Minimise the risk of measles transmission within your practice/department:
    • Avoid keeping patients with fever and rash in shared waiting areas (send to a separate room).
    • If measles is suspected, give the patient a single use, fitted mask and isolate under airborne precautions until a measles diagnosis can be excluded.
    • Leave all rooms that were used to assess the suspected case vacant for at least 30 minutes after the consultation.
  • Offer MMR vaccine to people born during or after 1966 who do not have documented evidence of receiving two doses of a measles-containing vaccine or documented evidence of immunity. Serology is not required before vaccinating. People who are not Medicare eligible can also receive the free MMR vaccine. Refer to the Australian Immunisation Handbook – MeaslesExternal Link for further guidance on immunisation.

Reviewed 31 January 2024

Health.vic

Contact details

Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Department of Health

Was this page helpful?