Measles alert for Darwin

29 June 2011

The NT Centre for Disease Control has issued a community alert for measles following the discovery of two recent cases in Darwin.

Measles is a very contagious viral illness that can cause serious disease especially in adults. It is spread by coughing and sneezing. The early symptoms of measles are fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes. A red blotchy rash follows about four days later.

The first case was an overseas visitor who acquired the disease in Singapore and would have been infectious from 9-17 June while visiting Darwin. The woman has advised medical staff that on 12 June she visited several public locations in Palmerston.

"Anyone who feels concerned about having a fever and a cough, with or without a rash, should contact their GP or the Centre for Disease Control", CDC Director Dr Vicki Krause said today.

The CDC is contactable on (08) 8922 8044. After hours phone (08) 8922 8888 and ask for the on-call CDC doctor. People who are considering visiting a healthcare facility with symptoms suggestive of measles should phone in advance so arrangements can be made to prevent the spread of the virus to other people.

"Measles is one of the most infectious of all communicable diseases and people who are not immune can easily catch it in public places," Dr Krause said.

The second case was infectious from 21-27June and was working in the Backpacker Job Centre in Mitchell Street. Anyone who was in the job centre from 21st to the 27th June should contact the Centre for Disease Control on (08) 8922 8044, after hours (08) 8922 8888.

"Members of the public who may have had contact with these cases are at risk of developing measles if they are not immune. To be immune to measles you need to have had measles in the past or have had two doses of a measles containing vaccine (measles vaccine, measles-mumps (MM) vaccine or measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine)."

In those not already immune, protection against measles can be achieved by vaccination. This is a free vaccine available from your community health centre (in the NT) and most GPs.

More information at: http://www.health.nt.gov.au/Centre_for_Disease_Control/Publications/CDC_Factsheets/index.aspx

Media Contact: Bridget Wild - 89 228 833 or 0419 818 414