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 of the signs and symptoms of measles, following two recent cases who attended a university graduation ceremony.

Dr Lester said the two, who had not been vaccinated for measles, attended the RMIT graduation ceremony at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium on December 17.

“We are concerned that more people may have been infected from the event,” Dr Lester said.

“Measles has an incubation period of up to 18 days so illness acquired from this event could still be coming through, and cases could still remain infectious for many days.

“Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause serious illness, particularly in very young children and adults.

“People can develop pneumonia and other serious complications from the disease, and those with measles often need to be hospitalised.”

Dr Lester said measles 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 doctor or hospital and alert them that they have fever and a rash,” she said.

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

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

  • Anyone who is unvaccinated.
  • Adults between 35 and 49 years - as many in this age group did not receive measles vaccine.
  • People at any age who are immunocompromised, 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 06 January 2015


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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