Department of Health

Health alert following new measles case in Melbourne

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services has alerted Victorians to the signs and symptoms of measles following the notification of a case who spent consecutive days shopping in Melbourne's CBD.

The new case - an adult woman who is recovering at home - is not linked to any other cases and may have acquired her disease overseas.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton said the case had visited a number of places on November 29 and 30 while infectious, but before being diagnosed.

The locations visited include:

  • November 29 - tram route 19 to the CBD; Bourke Street Mall: Myer, David Jones and H&M clothing store;
  • November 30 - tram route 19 to the CBD; DFO Southern Cross: Cotton-On clothing store; Barkly Square Brunswick: Woolworths and Coles.

"Measles has an incubation period of up to 18 days so those at risk of measles who visited these locations might show symptoms up until December 18," Dr Sutton said.

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 Sutton said people at risk of measles should be vigilant and aware of the symptoms.

"The illness usually begins with common cold symptoms such as runny nose, red eyes and a cough, followed by fever and rash," Dr Sutton said.

"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 symptoms is advised to ring ahead to their GP or hospital first and tell them that they have fever and a rash."

The disease is now uncommon in Australia because of the widespread use of the measles vaccine.

It is important to continue immunising children because of the risk the infection can be brought in by travellers arriving from overseas.

Dr Sutton said most cases of measles in Victoria were linked to international travel, with the disease more prevalent in many countries overseas, especially in Bali at present.

"People most likely to develop the illness were unvaccinated people who have travelled overseas, or unvaccinated people who have been in contact with them on their return," Dr Sutton said.

"The measles vaccine is currently recommended on the National Immunisation Program at 12 months and again at 18 months. Immunisation is the best protection against measles."

Anyone who is unvaccinated is at risk of contracting measles. Adults aged between 26 and 52 years have a lower immunisation coverage than younger adults and children and therefore most cases are in this age group. Most people over the age of 52 will have been exposed to measles in childhood, and therefore will be protected.

Further information about measles can be found at the Better Health Channel.

Reviewed 06 December 2017


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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