23 May 2019

ACT health authorities closely monitoring Victorian measles outbreak

| Glynis Quinlan
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Measles vaccination

On Wednesday, around 30 babies and toddlers at a Victorian childcare centre were given urgent treatment to help stop the spread of the measles virus.

ACT health authorities are closely monitoring the situation in Victoria where a public health warning has been issued following a measles outbreak which infected five adults and a baby.

The new cases take the number of Victorians infected with measles this year up to 22. On Wednesday (May 22), around 30 children at a Victorian childcare centre who had come in contact with the infected baby were given urgent treatment to help stop the spread of the virus.

The six recently infected Victorians came down with the virus after contact with a Vietnamese tourist who attended two family gatherings earlier in May

Prior to showing symptoms, they visited a number of places and Victorian health authorities are warning people to be alert for symptoms if they were in a range of locations during the first week of May onwards.

These include Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Abbotsford, Fairfield, North Fitzroy, Melbourne CBD, St Kilda, Williamstown, Chadstone, Oakleigh, Mount Waverley, Frankston, Mornington, Epsom and Broadmeadows.

Acting ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman, told Region Media that reports on the latest measles outbreak in Victoria are concerning and that the ACT Health Directorate is closely monitoring the situation in other jurisdictions.

“Although we have been fortunate to not have the same increase in measles cases as some of the larger jurisdictions this year, it doesn’t mean we won’t,” Dr Coleman said.

“Measles continues to circulate in many overseas countries and in other states and territories. Therefore it is possible that ACT residents travelling outside of the ACT could be exposed to the disease.

“We remind the community that vaccination for Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) is the best way people can protect themselves and the broader community against measles.

“We also strongly urge anyone travelling overseas to check their MMR vaccination status before leaving to ensure they are protected.

“The MMR vaccine is government funded and free for anyone born in or after 1966 who has not previously received two measles-containing vaccines.”

Three health alerts have been issued so far this year regarding measles in the ACT. Two of these alerts were for notified measles cases in the ACT and one alert was for a Victorian case that transited briefly through the Canberra Airport.

Australian concerns over measles outbreaks come at a time when travellers are being warned that measles is prevalent in South and South East Asia and while the World Health Organisation is saying that record numbers of people have been infected with the virus in Europe.

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