19 February 2023

Territory records first measles case in four years

| Claire Fenwicke
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Measles vaccination

Measles vaccination is now part of the childhood vaccination program. Photo: File.

Canberrans have been urged to check vaccination status against measles virus as the Territory has recorded its first case of the illness in four years.

A 20-year-old female who recently returned from overseas has come down with the virus and was in the community while infectious.

The exposure locations have been identified as:

    • Flight QF 1433 from Sydney to Canberra, Wednesday, 15 February
    • Canberra Airport, Wednesday, 15 February, between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm
    • David Jones at Canberra Centre, Wednesday, 15 February, between 12:30 pm and 1 pm
    • Bed Bath and Table at Canberra Centre, Wednesday, 15 February, between 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm
    • Myer in Canberra Centre, Wednesday, 15 February, between 1 pm and 1:45 pm
    • Madeleine’s Café on Level 2 of the Marian Building at the Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, Wednesday, 15 February, between 3 pm and 3:30 pm.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman asked everyone to be on the lookout for symptoms.

“We know that the case was at those locations while infectious, but we have determined the risk of exposure to anyone attending those locations is extremely low,” she said.

“But, we are advising people who were at those locations at those times to be on the lookout for symptoms of measles.

“We all know that measles is a very infectious illness, but we also know that Australia has a very, very high vaccination rate. For anybody who has two doses of a measles-containing vaccine, there is very, very, very little risk of measles.”

People who were at these locations at these times have been advised to monitor for symptoms from 22 February to 5 March.

Close contact locations have also been identified, although ACT Health was confident it had identified everyone who could have been exposed and was contacting them directly.

READ ALSO ACT uncovers 61 more COVID-related deaths following review of reporting process

People with measles generally develop symptoms seven to 18 days after exposure, with 10 days being most common.

The infectious period lasts from four days before the rash develops and then an additional four days afterwards.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Runny nose
  • Sore eyes
  • Cough
  • Rash.

Dr Coleman said if you develop such symptoms, and know you have been to one of the exposure locations, consider whether you could have contracted measles.

“If you think you might have measles, please ring your health practitioner first, do not turn up to your health practitioner or the ED.

“We don’t want measles being spread throughout the waiting room. Ring and say, ‘I may have been exposed to measles; I’ll need an assessment for measles’.”

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Dr Coleman said that while the community’s risk was low, this was a reminder for people to check their vaccination status.

“We know measles is circulating in some overseas countries.”

“If you are planning to travel, you definitely need to be protected.”

Measle vaccinations are now part of the childhood vaccination scheme and you can check your vaccination status on the Australian Immunisation Register.

If you’re an adult or teenager who cannot find a vaccination record, Dr Coleman said to call your doctor.

“There is no harm in going and getting another dose of a measles-containing vaccination.”

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