Department of Health

Health alert on measles

14/01/19
Published by Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is asking visitors to Box Hill Hospital to watch for the signs and symptoms of measles after a case was diagnosed with the infection.

The man in his 20s developed symptoms late last week and is now recovering in isolation at home.

The case was at the hospital on the following dates and times:

  • Thursday 10 January: Box Hill Hospital (8.00am to 9.30pm) including lunch in the onsite café, Zouki Cafeteria
  • Friday 11 January: Box Hill Hospital (8.00am to 6.30pm) including lunch in the onsite café, Zouki Cafeteria
  • Saturday 12 January: Box Hill Hospital (8.00am to 9.30pm) including lunch in the onsite café, Zouki Cafeteria and
  • Sunday 13 January: Box Hill Hospital (8.00am to 10.00am).

Victoria’s acting Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton said anyone who was in these locations at the same time should watch for symptoms.

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 often need to be hospitalised.

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

"Anyone developing symptoms is advised to ring ahead to their general practitioner or hospital first and tell them that they may have measles so that appropriate steps can be taken to avoid contact with other patients," Dr Sutton said.

The disease is now uncommon in Australia because of the widespread use of the measles vaccine, and most cases of measles in Victoria were linked to international travel, with the disease more prevalent in many countries overseas.

The latest figures from the Australian Immunisation Register show that 95.7 per cent of Victorian five-year-olds are now fully immunised.

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 highest risk of contracting measles. People need to have received two doses of measles-containing vaccine to be fully protected. Many adults born in Australia between 1966 and 1994 may have only received one vaccine against measles 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.

"This means if you are an adult born during or after 1966 - especially if you are planning travel overseas - you may be susceptible and should contact your GP to get vaccinated - and a free Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine is available," Dr Sutton said.

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

Reviewed 14 January 2019

Health.vic

Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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