Measles on the move

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

A Priceline Pharmacy is among a number of locations visited by a person who may have been able to transmit measles, as Victoria Health issues another warning about the disease

Six people have been diagnosed with measles after an overseas visitor attended two family events in Melbourne earlier this month.

As a result, Department of Health and Human Services is asking people to watch for the signs and symptoms of the disease.

The visitor has since returned to Vietnam, after going to an event at Mornington on May 4, and another at St Kilda on May 5.

Before returning overseas, the man visited sites in Moonee Ponds, North Melbourne, Coburg, Mount Waverley, Mornington, Williamstown and St Kilda.

Victoria’s acting Chief Health Officer, Dr Angie Bone, said people planning travel overseas – where the disease is more prevalent in many countries – should determine their immunisation status and if needed contact their GP to get vaccinated. A free Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine is available.

The six people who have since contracted measles – five adults and an infant – have had community contact while in their infectious period, but before developing symptoms, in a number of suburbs including the CBD, Geelong, East Malvern, Chadstone, Noble Park, Hawthorn, Oakleigh, Mount Waverley, Fairfield, South Wharf, Armadale, Abbotsford, East Melbourne, Baxter, Frankston, Karingal and St Kilda Rd.

Dr Bone said anyone who was in these locations from early May onwards should watch for symptoms.

Dr Bone said 27 babies and toddlers who had contact with the infant at a childcare facility were today immunised at Monash Medical Centre with immunoglobulin to help prevent them developing the disease.

This is the biggest linked cluster of measles in Victoria since March last year, when nine people developed the illness in an outbreak connected with Melbourne Airport.

Another adult diagnosed with measles this week, who has been to Bendigo and Echuca, is not connected to the other cases but has been linked to a previous case who acquired measles overseas.

The cases take the number of measles cases diagnosed in Victoria so far this year to 22.

“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,” warned Dr Bone.

“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.”

She encouraged people who were born in or after 1966 that they may be susceptible to measles, as they are less likely to have been exposed to it in childhood, but may have had only one, or no, doses of vaccine.

According to The Age, people who were at the Priceline Pharmacy on Douglas Parade in Williamstown on Monday, 6 May, from 4pm to 5pm, may have been exposed to the virus.

In April, Health Minister Greg Hunt flagged measles as a significant and growing concern in Australia, saying that as at 5 April, there had been 83 measles notifications in 2019, compared with 103 for the whole of 2018 and 81 for the whole of 2017.

A week earlier, Queensland accredited pharmacists had gained the ability to vaccinate children aged 16 and over with the MMR vaccine, a move welcomed by the state branches of the Guild and the PSA.

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