Department of Health

Health alert as measles case detected

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester has warned Christmas shoppers to the signs and symptoms of measles, following a recent case who attended a major Melbourne shopping centre on Boxing Day.

“While this case - a 25-year-old man from ???? - is now recovering, it is possible he may have infected others before being diagnosed,” Dr Lester said.

“We have established he was at Chadstone Shopping Centre on Boxing Day for around three hours during the middle of the day.

“It is likely that he became ill after being exposed to a close contact who attended a dance competition in NSW in early December which has resulted in several measles cases in NSW, South Australia and New Zealand.

An alert has been issued to GPs and emergency departments to be aware of other potential cases.

“The illness usually begins with common cold symptoms such as fever, sore throat, red eyes and a cough. The characteristic measles rash usually begins 3-7 days after the first symptoms, generally starting on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body.

“Anyone developing these symptoms is advised to ring ahead to their GP or hospital and alert them that they have fever and a rash.

“If you know you have been in contact with a measles case please alert your GP or hospital emergency department. The GP or hospital will then be able to provide treatment in a way that minimises transmission.

“Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause serious illness, particularly in very young children and adults. People with measles are often hospitalised.

“People can develop pneumonia and other serious complications from the disease,” Dr Lester said.

The groups of people most at risk of catching measles are:

  • Anyone who is unvaccinated;
  • Adults between 33 and 47 years - as many in this age group did not receive measles vaccine; and
  • People who are immunocompromised (i.e. have decreased immunity) - at any age, even if they have had measles or have been immunised. This includes people with diseases such as cancer, and people who are undergoing cancer treatment or are on high-dose steroids.

Measles vaccine (given as a combination with other vaccines) is currently recommended on the National Immunisation Program as a two dose schedule for children between 12 months and 4 years of age. Immunisation is the best protection against measles.

Reviewed 03 January 2014


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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