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Collins Square measles outbreak

05 Oct 2017

On October 1, Victorian health authorities announced 11 cases of measles, with eight of them linked to Collins Square in Docklands.

Victoria’s chief health officer Prof Charles Guest advised people who work in or around Collins Square to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease.

Prof Guest said measles had an incubation period of seven to 18 days so anyone who visited Collins Square might not develop symptoms until mid-October.

Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause serious illness, particularly in very young children and adults. People can develop pneumonia and other serious complications from the disease, and often need to be hospitalised. 

The illness usually begins with common cold symptoms such as runny nose, red eyes and a cough, followed by fever and rash, Prof Guest said. 

“The characteristic measles rash usually begins three to seven days after the first symptoms, generally starting on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body,” he said. 

“Anyone developing symptoms is advised to ring ahead to their GP or hospital first and tell them that they have fever and a rash so that appropriate steps can be taken to avoid contact with other patients.” 

The disease is now uncommon in Australia because of the widespread use of the measles vaccine.  It is important to immunise children because of the risk from overseas travellers. 

Prof Guest said most cases of measles in Victoria were linked to international travel, with the disease more prevalent in many countries overseas. 

The measles vaccine is currently recommended on the National Immunisation Program at 12 months and again at 18 months. Immunisation is the best protection against measles. 

Anyone who is unvaccinated is at risk of contracting measles. Adults aged between 26 and 52 have a lower immunisation coverage than younger adults and children and therefore most cases are in this age group.

Most people over the age of 52 will have been exposed to measles in childhood, and therefore will be protected.

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