Department of Health

Health alert on measles after baby diagnosed

25/01/19
Published by Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is asking people to watch for the signs and symptoms of measles after a baby was diagnosed with the infection.

The child was likely to have been infectious whilst in and around the Mildura area between Tuesday 15 January and Tuesday 22 January.

The baby is being treated in Mildura Base Hospital and was in the following locations while potentially infectious:

  • Tuesday 15 January: Langtree Mall, Mildura (day).
  • Saturday 19 January: The Wooden Door restaurant, Irymple (morning), Caterpillars, Mildura (morning), Ritchies Supa IGA, Wentworth, NSW (afternoon).
  • Monday 21 January: Mildura Base Hospital Emergency Department, 8.30am to 12.30pm and 8.00pm to 9.00pm.

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.

"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," Dr Sutton said.

"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."

The disease is now uncommon in Australia because of the widespread use of the measles vaccine, but 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 have only received one vaccine against measles and therefore most cases are in this age group.

Most people born before 1966 will have been exposed to measles in childhood, and therefore will be protected.

"This means if you are an adult born in 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 25 January 2019

Health.vic

Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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