Australian measles rates continue to escalate

Amanda Lyons

1/04/2019 3:00:32 PM

Echoing a trend being seen across the globe, Australia has recorded a huge number of measles cases in the first three months of 2019.

Global rates of measles are rising.
The number of measles cases reported in Australia is on the rise, reflecting a worldwide trend.

The National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System has shown that Australia recorded 79 cases of measles in the first quarter of 2019, which is five cases ahead of the total for 2015 and closing in on the 103 cases from 2018.
The elimination of measles in Australia was announced in 2014, a year that saw cases of the disease surge to 339 before a dramatic drop to 74 in 2015. But a combination of anti-vaccination beliefs and increased travel between Australia and countries in which the disease is not as well contained has resulted in the rates of infection once again rising.
‘[Cases occur] particularly when it’s in our near neighbours like the Philippines and Thailand,’ Director of Communicable Diseases Branch for NSW Health Dr Vicky Sheppeard said.
‘With the frequency of travel between those countries and Australia, we inevitably get those cases here.’
This year has seen a number of measles alerts issued in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane. Almost all of these cases originated from travel to overseas locations, and several unvaccinated children have been infected, including babies.
RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon believes the rising numbers in Australia further highlight the importance of vaccination.
‘Measles is not only a highly infectious disease that is miserable to experience, but it can also have additional health consequences further down the track, including death,’ he told newsGP.
‘But today we have a medical intervention – immunisation with a vaccine – that makes this disease easily preventable for most people.
‘It is vital, for the health of our children and our wider population, that people get vaccinated.’
Increased cases of measles have been reported all over the world in the past several years, including nearby neighbours Thailand and the Philippines, which is currently experiencing a particularly virulent outbreak that has resulted in over 21,000 cases and 315 deaths recorded since January.

immunisation measles Notifiable diseases Vaccination

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