Measles Update - Vaccination program extended

UPDATE as of 10 April 2019, 30 cases of measles have been reported in the Greater Darwin area.

UPDATE as of Friday 5 April 2019, Measles cases in the Greater Darwin area have reached 28 since the outbreak began in mid-February.

-

28 March 2019

Measles cases in the Greater Darwin area have reached 23 since the outbreak began in mid-February.

Vaccination program extended

As all of the measles cases have occurred in the Darwin-Palmerston, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has extended the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to include 9-12 month-old babies in the Greater Darwin area while the virus is circulating.

“We understand that parents wish to protect their children, and so for the course of this outbreak, the MMR vaccine can now be given to babies in the outbreak area who are 9-12 months old,” CDC Director Dr Vicki Krause said. “This is in addition to the scheduled MMR vaccinations at 12 and 18 months, so babies who are vaccinated early will require a total of three doses.”

Most cases in this outbreak have been in adults. If you are not immune from measles you are at risk of getting the disease and of transmitting it to others. Measles is a very contagious viral illness that is spread among people through coughing and sneezing.

For babies under nine months, who are not recommended for vaccination, the CDC recommends the ‘herd immunity’ approach to protecting vulnerable people, by ensuring those who spend time with them are appropriately immunised, and also recommend minimising unnecessary public outings with their young babies at this time..

“If you are not immune to measles, it can be caught easily in public places such as shopping centres, pharmacies, waiting rooms, fast food areas and workplaces. Stores and shopping centres in Palmerston have been repeatedly visited by recent infectious cases.”

Measles can be a very serious disease with up to one third of people infected experiencing a complication. Complications are more common in young children and in adults and often require hospitalisation.

CDC staff have been contacting people, now well over 1000 in total, who have been identified as having contact with measles cases to provide information and offer preventive immunisation as appropriate.

Should you get a measles vaccination?

You are immune if you:

  • Have previously had measles
  • Have had two doses of the measles-containing vaccine, known as the MMR vaccine
  • Were born before 1966 as you are most likely had measles and are considered immune.

People born between 1966 and 1996 may have only had one MMR vaccination and need to check their records to see if they have had two doses.

If you cannot confirm that you are measles immune, it is recommended that you make an appointment with your vaccine provider today to request a free MMR vaccine.

While the vaccine itself is free, clinics that do not bulk bill may still charge a consultation fee.

After hours GP clinics can be found using the link: https://www.ntafterhours.com.au/

“If you are non-immune it is very common to catch measles while travelling overseas so all travellers also need to ensure they are immune to measles before travelling. Parents of babies aged 9 to 12 month olds travelling overseas should talk to their vaccine providers about giving the first MMR dose from 9 months, in addition to the scheduled MMR vaccinations at 12 and 18 months. Measles is circulating widely throughout the world at the moment, including Europe,” Dr Krause said.

“If non-immune or uncertain of your immunity, getting an MMR vaccine now is strongly advised.”

What should you look out for?

It is important to recognise the symptoms of measles: cough, runny nose, sore red eyes and fever, which usually occur 7-10 days after exposure to a case.

These symptoms are followed a few days later by a red blotchy rash which often starts on the face and then becomes widespread over the body.

If you think you have the measles

If you think you or someone you are caring for might have measles, seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Make sure you call ahead to the medical practice, so that staff there can take the necessary precautions to avoid potential spread to others.

For more information visit: https://nt.gov.au/wellbeing/health-conditions-treatments/viral/measles

Last updated: 11 April 2019