ACT Health is warning Canberrans that measles is a serious and highly contagious disease among people who are not fully immunised following confirmation of a case of measles in the ACT.
Acting ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Paul Dugdale, is concerned there could be an outbreak of measles, saying “we only have one case at the moment but it may spread”.
He is particularly concerned about people who may have been in contact with the person who has measles at the Noodle House in Dickson and the Chemist on Northbourne on the evening of Tuesday, October 17. If any of these people have caught the disease they may be starting to get sick “around about now”.
Dr Dugdale said the individual had acquired the infection in Asia on a recent overseas trip and that this was the first case of measles to be notified in the ACT this year.
He is alerting Canberrans to be aware of measles symptoms which can include fever, tiredness, runny nose, sore eyes and a cough, followed by a rash which appears 2-7 days later.
“The Health Protection Service is following-up identified contacts in line with national guidelines,” Dr Dugdale said.
“This includes members of the public who may have been exposed to the case at the Asian Noodle House in Dickson between 7 pm and 8.30 pm and the Chemist on Northbourne between 7.45 pm and 8.45 pm on the evening of Tuesday 17 October 2017 while infectious,” he said.
“People who attended these premises at these times should be aware for signs and symptoms of measles from now until 4 November 2017.
“Anyone with symptoms of measles who need to seek medical advice should advise their health care provider before they arrive at the medical clinic so that appropriate infection control precautions can be put in place to stop the spread of the infection.”
The ACT normally tends to have one or two cases of measles confirmed each year, with the last one confirmed in October last year and also acquired from overseas.
Some of the complications of measles include encephalitis, seizures, infection of the middle ear and pneumonia.
People generally develop symptoms 7-18 days after being exposed to a person with infectious measles, with 10 days being more common. People are infectious from five days before they develop a rash until four days after.
“The virus is spread from an infectious person during coughing and sneezing or through direct contact with secretions from the nose or mouth,” Dr Dugdale said.
“This case of measles, the first for the ACT this year, is a reminder that the best way to protect yourself and your family against measles is vaccination.”
According to ACT Health, the people who are most vulnerable to catching measles are:
- unvaccinated people – including babies under 12 months, conscientious objectors, and people who grew up in places where immunisation was not offered
- under-vaccinated people, particularly 25-51-year-olds, as the vaccine program was not as strong during their childhood
“Two doses of Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine (MMR) are recommended to provide adequate immunity, and although the vaccine is normally given to children at 12 months and 18 months of age, it can be given at any age after 9 months.
“I encourage everyone in the community to check their immunisation status and get up to date if needed,” Dr Dugdale said.
ACT Health has information about measles online at: www.health.act.gov.au/publications-reports/fact-sheets/measles.