Measles – what you need to know

The Department of Health and Human Services confirms that there have been 11 confirmed cases of Measles in Melbourne since early September, with 8 of the 11 cases connected through a workplace in Collins Street, Docklands. Two other people affected passed through Melbourne’s international terminal on flights to and from Asia.

Measles is a contagious viral illness that causes a skin rash and fever. Serious and sometimes fatal complications include pneumonia and encephalitis (brain inflammation). Worldwide, measles is the fifth highest cause of illness and death in children.

Measles is transmitted by airborne droplets and direct contact with discharges from respiratory mucous membranes of infected persons and less commonly by articles freshly soiled with nose and throat secretions. It persist in the environment for 30min, including hard surfaces like door handles.

Measles is highly infectious through airborne transmission and has an incubation period of up to 18 days, from exposure to onset of rash.

People at risk include children or adults born during or since 1966 who do not have documented evidence of receiving two doses of a measles-containing vaccine, or documented evidence of laboratory-confirmed measles immunity are considered to be susceptible to measles.

People who are immunocompromised are also at risk.

The best way to prevent infection is to ensure that you and your loved ones are up to date you’re your immunisations. Please check you immunisation records and see your GP if you are in doubt.

What to do if you have been exposed to someone with Measles:

If you’ve been in contact with someone with measles and you are not immune to measles (have not been immunised or have not had a measles infection), there are different treatment options. Speak with your doctor about your options.

Depending on your situation, these may include: Contact in the last 72 hours – have a measles immunisation immediately.

Contact in the last three to seven days – immunoglobulin can be given for interim protection. This is known as passive immunisation. Measles vaccination, or active immunisation, should be given later to prevent further risk of infection, but not until five months after you received the immunoglobulin. Normal human immunoglobulin is given as an injection.

For further information on measles signs and symptoms please refer to the Better Health Channel https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/measles

Source: The Victorian Department of Health and Better Health Channel