Public Health authorities have warned Tasmanians to be alert for measles symptoms after a returned traveler was diagnosed with the highly infectious illness.
Acting Director of Public Health Dr Mark Veitch said Tasmanian residents and visitors may have been exposed to measles in the following settings:
- Thai Airways flight TG 465, Bangkok-Melbourne, arriving early afternoon on 30 April
- Melbourne airport on the afternoon of 30 April
- Jetstar flight JQ 739 Melbourne-Launceston, arriving 5:40 pm on 30 April
- Launceston General Hospital Emergency Department, 6 pm Monday 2 May to 7 pm Tuesday 3 May.
Only people who are not immune to measles can catch measles.
People born since 1966 need to have had 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine to be sure they are immune. Older people are immune from infection in childhood.
“Measles is highly contagious to people who are not immune and can be serious,” Dr Veitch warned.
“Measles usually starts with a fever, cough, sore red eyes and a runny nose. These symptoms start about 10 days after contact with a case
A blotchy rash appears several days after the fever. People with measles are usually ill.”
Tasmanians need to be alert for symptoms until at least May 20.
Dr Veitch said people with measles symptoms should see a doctor but must call ahead so the clinic can plan to see them without putting other patients or staff at risk of infection.
“People with suspected measles must stay away from school, work and public places until their doctor says they can resume normal activities.”
General Practitioners and Emergency Departments state-wide are being alerted to the possibility of measles cases over the next two weeks.
“The public can play their part by being aware of measles, particularly if they were in any of the places where we know there was a risk.”
“It is difficult to predict if further cases will occur in Tasmania. If any do, it is very important to respond quickly to prevent further spread.”
People immune to measles and those not
- People born before 1966 are probably immune from measles infection during childhood.
- People born from 1966 onwards are less likely to have had the infection, but will probably be immune if they have had two doses of a measles-containing vaccine.
- People born from 1966 onwards who have not had measles vaccine, or only had one dose, cannot be sure they are immune.
- Young and middle aged adults who are uncertain of their immunity should discuss having a booster of a measles vaccine with their GP.
- Most young Tasmanian children will have received their first measles vaccine at 12 months and a second dose at 18 months.