Department of Health

Measles cases in Rowville and Narre Warren

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Victoria's Chief Health Officer, Professor Charles Guest has warned of the signs and symptoms of measles, following two cases detected in Rowville.

Prof. Guest said the pair are teenage siblings from the same family and may have been unwell when they travelled back to Australia from Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia flight D7214 which arrived at Tullamarine at 9.30am on Thursday, January 5.

"Following their arrival back in Melbourne and before they were diagnosed, the children visited Fountain Gate Shopping Centre and a cinema with their family," Prof. Guest said.

"One of the children was hospitalised for a short period of time at the Angliss Hospital before being diagnosed and then isolated. Both are now recovering at home.

"We are concerned that more people may have been infected from coming into contact with these children in the community," Prof. Guest 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.

Prof. Guest 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.

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.

Prof. Guest 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 to 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 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 17 January 2017


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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