Be measles aware these holidays
Published at: 10 Jan 2020
THERE HAVE BEEN MORE THAN 50 CASES OF MEASLES IDENTIFIED IN VICTORIA THIS YEAR ALONE. MOST RECENTLY CASES WERE INFECTIOUS AT SITES ACROSS MELBOURNE AND REGIONAL VICTORIA. GV HEALTH’S INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL CONSULTANT ELIZABETH SMITH HAS URGED COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO BE AWARE OF THEIR SUSCEPTIBILITY TO INFECTION.
With many people travelling this festive season and itinerant workers heading to the Goulburn Valley, GV Health has urged the community to be measles aware.
The warning comes after a state of emergency was declared in Samoa and large outbreaks have taken place in South-East Asia and New Zealand.
GV Health Infection Prevention and Control consultant Elizabeth Smith said Australia was surrounded by the outbreaks geographically, which meant we were at a higher risk of outbreaks.
“For people aged in their late 20s to early 50s, they potentially need to know if they have had two doses of the Measles MMR vaccine as they may be susceptible to infection if they haven’t had the two,” she said.
Ms Smith said a free vaccine was available through lots of pharmacies via the National Immunisation Program.
“It’s a good time to think about getting the vaccine, particularly if you’re planning on travelling,” she said.
While it was recommended babies received the vaccine when aged between 12 and 18 months, Ms Smith said babies who were travelling could have the vaccine as early as six months.
“But they will still need to have a booster at 12 to 18 months if that’s the case,” she said.
“Consult with your doctor or travel vaccination clinic if you are planning on travelling.
“Vaccinations are safe and effective and are the best measure to prevent transmission.”
Ms Smith said there were also multilingual translations with information regarding measles available through the Department of Health and Human Services.
She urged those who suspected they already had contracted measles to ring ahead if they planned on being in public so an effective mask could be made available to them.
“Anyone that has been in an area with the virus for up to half an hour afterwards is susceptible to contracting measles,” Ms Smith said.
She said symptoms often presented as spots on the body, starting at the head and neck and eventually moving to the abdomen and all over the body.
“It’s also associated with a high temperature and they’ll often get sore, red eyes,” she said.
Ms Smith said complications from the symptoms could be serious and could lead to lifelong ramifications and, in some cases, death.
For more information regarding recent outbreaks in Victoria click here.