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State on alert after measles case reported

Written by on May 18, 2024

A new case of measles has been reported in Victoria – the 10th recorded for the state since the start of the year.

The returned traveller tested positive to measles after transiting through Melbourne Airport’s T2 international terminal between 9.15pm and 10.30pm on Wednesday.

The infected traveller returned on Emirates flight EK408 from Dubai to Melbourne.

Victoria’s chief health officer Dr Clare Looker said the case was in addition to another case reported on May 11.

Passengers on flight EK408 or in the airport between the listed times have been urged to monitor for symptoms.

“Anyone who presents with signs and symptoms compatible with measles should be tested and notified to the Department of Health,” Dr Looker said.

“There should be an especially high level of suspicion if they have travelled overseas or visited any of the sites listed above and are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated for measles.”

Earlier in the month, multiple alerts were issued for restaurants and pharmacies in Prahran, Windsor, Hawthorn and South Yarra after a person infected with measles visited locations in the areas.

People are asked to check the department’s website to see if they have been to any of the exposure sites and check for symptoms which can take up to 7 to 18 days to develop.

Dr Looker said people who were born from 1966 and did not have evidence of receiving two doses of a measles vaccine were at risk of contracting the disease, including unvaccinated infants.

“Young infants, pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system are at increased risk of serious complications from measles,” Dr Looker said.

Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, sore or red eyes (conjunctivitis), runny nose, and feeling generally unwell, followed by a red maculopapular rash.

The rash usually started on the face before it spread down the body and initial symptoms could be similar to those of Covid-19 or the flu.

“If a symptomatic person tests negative for Covid-19 and/or influenza but develops a rash, they should be advised to continue isolating and be tested for measles,” Dr Looker said.

“People with measles are potentially infectious from 24 hours prior to the onset of initial symptoms until 4 days after the rash appears.

“Measles is highly infectious and can spread through airborne droplets or contact with nose or throat secretions, as well as contaminated surfaces and objects. The measles virus can stay in the environment for up to 2 hours.”

Anyone with symptoms should seek medical help immediately, wear and a mask and isolate themselves from others.

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