Two more measles cases confirmed as national trend continues

Matt Woodley

17/01/2020 11:34:32 AM

People unsure of their vaccination history have been urged to see their GP.

Measles in the dictionary
The National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System reported 285 measles cases in Australia last year, a total surpassed only once in the past 20 years.

The public health alert was issued after two more people contracted measles in Sydney, taking the total number of people infected in NSW since Christmas to nine.
The latest cases involved two people aged between 20 and 55, while measles cases have already been reported in Western Australia, Victoria and Queensland in 2020.
‘We know many adults in this age group have only had one dose of measles vaccine,’ NSW communicable diseases acting director Dr Christine Selvey said after the latest cases were revealed.
‘Anyone unsure of their vaccination history should see their GP for another dose, which is free of charge.’
A global surge in measles deaths in 2018 was followed by a number of outbreaks last year, leading to warnings from the World Health Organization related to stagnating vaccination rates.
Samoa only recently lifted its state of emergency after an outbreak infected 5600 and resulted in 83 fatalities on the island nation. The Democratic Republic of Congo is currently in the midst of the ‘world’s worst measles epidemic’, which has killed 6000 and infected a suspected 310,000 people since 2019.
Despite being declared ‘measles free’ in 2014, Australia has not been spared. The National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System reported 285 cases last year, a total surpassed only once in the past 20 years.
While new measles cases are generally linked to overseas travel, Dr Selvey said the number of recent cases in and around Sydney means people may have been exposed locally and could be developing symptoms.
‘Anyone experiencing [measles] symptoms should seek medical attention and should call their doctor or emergency department before attending so that spread of measles to others in the waiting room can be prevented,’ she said.

New resource
The RACGP recently published the new Measles factsheet and checklist to support GPs and practice teams in response to the increasing number of measles cases presenting at Australian general practices.

This resource includes key information and considerations for GPs and practice staff, alongside a preparation, response and recovery checklist for measles presentations.

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