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Melbourne: Measles

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    Posted: March 26 2018 at 5:14am

Health Department issues measles warning as outbreak worsens

Starts at 60 Writers Health 3 hours ago

Six new cases of measles have been linked to a passenger on a flight to Melbourne from Malaysia earlier this month. 

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has since issued a warning for all travellers who collected their luggage from the international baggage area on the morning of Wednesday March 7, when the AirAsia flight D7214 from Kuala Lumpur arrived. 

The passenger, a 40-year-old Australian man, became unwell on the flight and went straight to hospital where the illness was diagnosed. 

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Sutton said the newly-confirmed cases had been in the international baggage collection area between 9.30am and midday. 

“None of these were on the same flight, but we believe they fell ill because they were in the baggage area at the same time as the index case,” Sutton said.

The department said the new cases are a baby too young to be immunised and five adults ranging in age from 20 to 60. 

Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause serious illness, particularly in very young children and adults. 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,” Sutton said. 

“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.”

The illness is now uncommon in Australia because of the widespread use of the measles vaccine. However, the department said anyone unvaccinated is at risk of contracting the disease. Most cases involve people aged between 26 and 52, as this group has lower immunisation coverage.

“All adults born during or since 1966 who have not received two doses of measles-containing vaccine should see their GP before travelling overseas,to check their records and get vaccinated. Measles vaccine is not just a childhood vaccine: it’s a travel vaccine,” Sutton said.


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