Health authorities are urging Tasmanians to make sure they are vaccinated for measles after the confirmation of two cases in the state this week. Director of Public Health Dr Roscoe Taylor said the measles virus had been confirmed for the first time in five years in Tasmania, with one case in the northwest and another in the state’s south.
“Measles is highly contagious to people who are not immune and can be a very serious infection,” Dr Taylor warned. “We have identified contacts of the recent Tasmanian cases and provided them with advice about measles and, if the timing permitted, measles vaccine or a preventive treatment (immunoglobulin).
“Several suspected additional cases with links to known cases are under investigation. “It is possible other people have been exposed to known or as-yet unknown cases of measles, and for this reason we are asking all Tasmanians and their doctors to be alert to the symptoms of this disease.”
Dr Taylor said both cases had acquired their infection outside of Tasmania. There have been over 250 cases of measles in the mainland states so far this year.
Dr Taylor said measles usually started with a fever, cough, sore red eyes and a runny nose. “These symptoms start about 10 days after contact with a case, but can occur a few days sooner or later. “A blotchy rash appears several days after the fever and people with measles are usually quite ill.”
Dr Taylor said people with these symptoms should see a doctor.
“However, it is very important they call ahead so the clinic can plan to see them without exposing other patients or staff to risk of infection,” Dr Taylor stressed. People with measles should stay away from school, work and public places until their doctor advises them it is safe for them to resume normal activities.