Person with measles visits pharmacy

On Tuesday Health Vic announced that a new case of measles has been identified in a returned traveller from Italy – the first case of measles identified in Victoria this year

The individual was infectious while visiting public sites in Geelong, including the Soul Pattinson Chemist on Myers Street on Thursday 9 January, between 7.15pm and 8.30pm. The person also went to the Woolworths Waurn Ponds while infectious on January 7.

Vic Health notes that almost all recognised measles cases in Victoria in the last year have been in people who are not fully immunised against measles, who have either travelled overseas or been in contact with travellers from overseas in Victoria.

Many cases have been in people born since 1966 who believed they were fully immunised but who had not had two doses of MMR vaccine. 

GPs and Emergency Departments have been urged to have an “especially high index of suspicion” when it comes to presentations featuring measles symptoms if the individual has travelled overseas, or been to the pharmacy or supermarket in question, and are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated for measles.

On Monday, Queensland Health also issued an alert regarding a case of measles on the Gold Coast.

In early January this individual attended a number of locations while unknowingly being contagious, including a church, the Coomera Westfield shopping centre, a Bunnings outlet and a Coles supermarket.

Another case had been identified on the Gold Coast on January 3, and had also been to the Coomera Westfield at the end of 2019.

ABC News reports that Brisbane parents are now considering vaccinating their children early against the highly infectious disease.

Reporter Talissa Siganto noted that 2019 was the worst year for measles in Queensland in more than 20 years, with 74 cases – more than five times the average number of cases over the previous four years – diagnosed over the year.

On Friday NSW Health also issued a measles alert, saying that a man whose vaccination history could not be identified had been confirmed to have contracted the disease.

Dr Christine Selvey, NSW Health Acting Director of Communicable Diseases, said “it is important for anyone born after 1965 to make sure they have received two doses of measles vaccine, as two doses provides the best protection against measles. People who are unsure of their vaccination history can safely receive another dose.”

“People usually catch measles during overseas travel, however the number of recent cases with exposures in and around Sydney means many people may have been exposed locally and could be developing symptoms now or over the coming days and weeks”.

“Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose and sore red eyes, followed 3 to 4 days later by a red spotty rash which starts on the head and spreads to the rest of the body.

“Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention, but call ahead to your doctor or emergency department so that your exposure to others can be limited on arrival.”

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