There is an active measles outbreak in Melbourne’s inner north, with the number of people affected more than doubled in recent weeks.
Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services has received reports of five new cases of the highly contagious virus, which brings the tally of those affected by the outbreak to nine.
Three women and two men all aged in their 20s and 30s are included in these numbers. A health spokesman has told the ABC, that two of these patients have had to be hospitalised as their condition is quite serious.
The current outbreak started two weeks ago, when four cases of measles were confirmed in Brunswick and East Brunswick. Dr Roscoe Taylor, Victoria’s acting Chief Health Officer, cautioned against complacency and making assumptions that other areas of Melbourne were not affected.
“We are concerned that more people may have been infected from coming into contact with these people in the community,” Dr Taylor said. “Measles has an incubation period of up to 18 days so illness acquired from contact could still be coming through, and cases could still remain infectious for many days.”
Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause serious illness that can require hospitalisation. Young children, the elderly and those unimmunised are particularly at risk of the disease.
Measles itself is considered rare in Australia, due to the measles vaccine most of the population receive. However, the infection can be brought in by overseas travellers.
Dr Taylor said measles usually begins with common cold symptoms such as fever, sore throat, red eyes and a cough. A distinctive measles rash usually begins 3-7 days after the first symptoms, generally starting on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body.
“Anyone developing these symptoms is advised to ring ahead to their doctor or hospital and alert them that they have fever and a rash,” he said. “If you know you have been in contact with a measles case please alert your GP or hospital emergency department. The doctor or hospital will then be able to provide treatment in a way that minimises transmission.”
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