Department of Health

Measles cases in Brunswick

09/02/16
Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Victoria's acting Chief Health Officer, Dr Roscoe Taylor has warned of the signs and symptoms of measles, following four cases detected in Brunswick.

Dr Taylor said there was no direct connection between the four, other than living in Brunswick or East Brunswick. They became ill over the past week.

"We are concerned that more people may have been infected from coming into contact with these people in the community," Dr Taylor 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 Taylor 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 none of the Brunswick cases  a man and two women in their 20s and a woman in her 40s  reported overseas travel, and a common source is still to be identified.

The Department has issued a Chief Health Officer alert asking doctors to look out for further infections, and to identify people who could benefit from protection through vaccination.

Dr Taylor said measles usually begins with common cold symptoms such as fever, sore throat, 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."

Health Minister Jill Hennessy launched a new app in December that helps remind busy parents when their young children are due for a vaccination.

The app, VaxOnTime, was developed in response to one of the most common reasons parents cite for falling behind in vaccinations  they simply forget.

Under the tough new No Jab, No Play laws which came into force on 1 January, all Victorian children must be fully vaccinated to attend childcare and kindergarten.

The groups of people most at risk of catching measles are:

  • Anyone who is unvaccinated.
  • Adults between 35 and 49 years - as many in this age group did not receive measles vaccine.
  • People at any age who are immunocompromised, 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.

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.

Reviewed 09 February 2016

Health.vic

Was this page helpful?