Department of Health

Health alert for measles in Melbourne's North West

09/09/14
Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester says a confirmed case of measles in an 11-month-old baby from Greenvale could lead to further cases in Melbourne’s north western suburbs.

Dr Lester said because the child and his mother had attended a number of shopping centres, cafes and a play centre while he was infectious, but not displaying symptoms, it is important for people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of measles.

“The Department has been able to identify a number of children who attended playgroups with this child and provide advice to the families involved,” Dr Lester said.

“However, we are asking people who develop measles-like symptoms between September 5 and September 21 to seek medical advice.

“The illness usually begins with common cold symptoms such as fever, sore throat, red eyes and a cough. The characteristic measles rash usually begins 2-5 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,” Dr Lester said.

Dr Lester said the locations visited for periods of time by the baby and his mother were Jump’n Jiggle Children’s Activity and Play Centre in Tullamarine, Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre in Richmond, Hammer and Tong Restaurant in Fitzroy, Sitka Foodstore and Café in Macedon, Craigieburn Plaza Shopping Centre, Highpoint Shopping Centre Maribyrong, Westfield Shopping Centre Airport West, St John’s Uniting Church Hall Essendon, Chemist Warehouse Greenvale and La Porchetta Craigieburn.

“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.

There have been 72 confirmed cases of measles have in Victoria since 1 January 2014. This is the highest level since 2001.

Reviewed 09 September 2014

Health.vic

Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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