Department of Health

Measles case in Western suburbs

14/03/17
Published by Department of Health & Human Services
Victoria’s acting Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton has warned of the signs and symptoms of measles, following a case detected in the western suburbs of Melbourne. 

Dr Sutton said the individual is a casual employee of Big W at Werribee Plaza and worked over four consecutive days while infectious, but before being diagnosed.

The individual worked on Friday March 3 between 8pm and midnight, Saturday March 4 between 5 and 9 pm, Sunday March 5 between 3 and 6pm and Monday March 6 between 6 and 9pm.

“The individual’s co-workers have already been advised of the case and to be aware of the signs and symptoms of measles,” Dr Sutton said.

“This individual did not require hospitalisation and is now recovering. It is thought a recent visit to Bali is where the illness was contracted, but the symptoms were not apparent until well after their return.

“We are concerned that more people may have been infected through contact with this individual in the community,” Dr Sutton said.

“Measles has an incubation period of up to 18 days so illness acquired from contact could still be coming through, and cases could still remain infectious for many days.”

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.

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 most cases of measles in Victoria were linked to international travel, with the disease more prevalent in many countries overseas. 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.

He said measles usually begins with common cold symptoms such as fever, runny nose, red eyes and a cough. 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 doctor or hospital and alert them that they have fever and a rash,” he said.

“If you know you have been in contact with a measles case please alert your GP or hospital emergency department. The doctor or hospital will then be able to provide treatment in a way that minimises transmission.

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 and 18 months of age. Immunisation is the best protection against measles.

Women aged in their 20s to 40s can get free measles/mumps/rubella vaccine under the Victorian Government’s initiative to ensure women of child-bearing age are protected against rubella.

People aged under 20 can get it under the Federal Government’s current catch-up campaign, and other at-risk groups who can get free vaccine include people of ATSI background, refugees or asylum seekers.

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

Reviewed 14 March 2017

Health.vic

Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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