Department of Health

Health alert on further measles cases (Archived content)

26/08/13
Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Victorians have been warned to be on the alert for measles, following further cases diagnosed in recent weeks.

The Chief Health Officer, Dr Rosemary Lester said ten cases of the illness had now been detected.

“Further cases were detected after the Victorian Health Department issued an alert on August 8 over an East Brunswick man, 26, who visited several locations in the northern suburbs and also flew to Brisbane.

“We are aware of four other cases which are connected to this man.”

The Department has also been notified of a man, 21, who returned to Melbourne on August 6 after visiting Europe.

Dr Lester said the European traveller has passed the illness on to three family members. The traveller was infectious from August 1 to 10, and during that time he or his family were in contact with people in suburbs including Ivanhoe, Collingwood, Upper Heidelberg and Donvale.

Dr Lester said a health alert has also been issued to patients who attended Box Hill Hospital emergency department on August 15. Other health facilities have also been contacting patients known to be exposed to confirmed cases.

Tests which were carried out on a Chinese woman who presented at the hospital with symptoms have now confirmed she had measles. The woman has since returned home to China.

”We are not aware of any other cases at this stage from the woman at Box Hill Hospital, but people are asked to be alert for symptoms. She also attended two medical centres, who are alerting medical staff and patients.

“The illness usually begins with common cold symptoms such as fever, sore throat, red eyes and a cough,” Dr Lester 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 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 exposure or transmission to other patients.

“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 aged between 33 and 47 – as many in this age group did not receive measles vaccine.
  • People who are immunocompromised (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 recommended on the National Immunisation Program as a two dose schedule for children aged between 12 months and 4 years. Immunisation is the best protection against measles.

Reviewed 26 August 2013

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