Department of Health

New measles case in Victoria

02/08/19
Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Please see the Health Alert from Victoria's Chief Health Officer in relation to additional cases of measles. None of these cases are linked.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton said today that three confirmed measles cases have been identified in Victorian residents who have returned from overseas travel.

Two of these cases have attended public places while infectious.

The first case, a man in his 20s, is now recovering. His illness was acquired in the Philippines.

The second case is a female in her 40s. The illness was acquired in South East Asia after visiting Singapore and Thailand. This case is recovering at home and is doing well.

The third case, a 9 month old boy acquired the infection in Thailand.  He is now recovering at home.

Dr Sutton said infants as young as 6 months of age can now receive free measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine prior to travel overseas to countries where measles is endemic, or where measles outbreaks are occurring.

“There are a large number of ongoing international measles outbreaks in Asia, Europe and America,’ Dr Sutton said.

“People who are planning overseas travel should ensure they have received vaccinations appropriate to travel, including an MMR vaccine if they do not have a history of two previous MMR vaccinations.

Free MMR vaccine is now available from GPs and some pharmacies for all eligible people born during or since 1966. Patients unsure of their vaccination status or are aged over 18 months and have only had one vaccine, should be vaccinated,” he said.

In 2019 there have now been 29 cases of confirmed measles notified in Victoria. Almost all cases are in people who are not fully immunised against measles, who have either travelled overseas or been in contact with travellers from overseas in Victoria.

Background

Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause serious illness. Those most at risk of serious illness include very young children and adults with weakened immune systems.

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.

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. If you think you might have measles, it’s a good idea to stay away from other people as much as possible, particularly those who are unvaccinated or most at risk of serious illness, until you have been assessed by a doctor.

Anyone who is unvaccinated is at highest risk of contracting measles. The disease is now uncommon in Australia because of the widespread use of the measles vaccine, but the disease is more prevalent in many countries overseas. Most cases of measles in Victoria have been linked to international travel.

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.

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.

Reviewed 02 August 2019

Health.vic

Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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