Measles confirmed as ‘rogue practitioners’ crackdown begins


The Victorian Government is urging health professionals to consider measles in patients with rash, following the confirmation of one case

Victoria’s Health Department has confirmed one case of measles in Melbourne, with the infection likely to have been acquired overseas.

The health alert follows the state government’s announcement that it will crack down on health professionals who help parents exploit loopholes in the No Jab No Play legislation.

The new measles case was infectious while the sufferer was on Emirates flight EK404, which departed Dubai on Wednesday 10 January at 9.20am, before arriving in Tullamarine on Thursday 11 January at 9am via Singapore.

The individual spent about three hours at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport between 9am and 12 midday, particularly around the international baggage collection area.

The Department is now attempting to contact passengers who were also on the flight to Melbourne.

“Be alert for measles in patients presenting with a fever at rash onset, particularly if they attended any of the places listed,” the Department urges health professionals.

“Secondary cases may have symptoms start anytime from [today, 18 January] until Monday 29 January 2018.”

Health professionals are urged not to send suspected cases to hospital emergency departments unless the patient’s condition is severe enough to need admission. GPs are being encouraged to manage suspected cases in their surgeries.

In a health alert the Department listed clinical features of measles, which include: include prodromal fever, a severe cough, conjunctivitis and coryza.

Individuals, especially children, are typically unwell. The most important clinical predictors are the following features:

  • generalised, maculopapular rash, usually lasting three or more days, AND
  • fever (at least 38°C, if measured) present at the time of rash onset, AND
  • cough, coryza or conjunctivitis.

Measles is highly infectious and can persist in the environment for up to two hours.

Measles rash on boy
Measles rash, day three. Picture courtesy of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The alert follows a reminder this week issued by Victoria’s Department of Health to encourage parents to immunise their children before they return to school and childcare.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy reminded parents of the Andrews Government’s No Jab, No Play law, which requires all children enrolling in early childhood and care services to be up to date with all vaccinations unless they have an approved exemption.

Since introducing the law, Victoria has achieved its best immunisation coverage, with 94.9% of Victorian children aged five now fully immunised – the second highest coverage rate in Australia. Before No Jab, No Play, the coverage was 92.5%.

This means Victoria has almost reached the 95% ‘herd immunity’ target, which is necessary to halt the spread of dangerous and virulent diseases such as measles.

The state Government is also cracking down on health professionals who make false statements to help vaccine objectors avoid the consequences of not vaccinating.

Under the changes, only Immunisation History Statements from the Australian Immunisation Register will be accepted when enrolling in childcare or kindergarten. Documents produced by GPs or other immunisation providers will no longer be accepted as proof of immunisation for enrolment.

“The science is crystal clear. Vaccinations save lives. Immunisation keeps our kids safe and protected against deadly diseases,” says Ms Hennessy.

“We are cracking down on rogue practitioners who put the health and safety of children at risk with their lies.

“There is just simply no excuse not to immunise your child – conscientious objection is not a valid exemption.”

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