Measles in Melbourne
Updated: Jul 28
" Melburnians who visited Southbank, caught the Skybus or travelled through Melbourne Airport earlier this month, have been warned to stay alert for signs of measles after a young traveller was diagnosed with the disease." 1
Measles is a viral illness which is uncommon due to vaccination but outbreaks continues to happen in most of the world.
How we get it ? by droplets or direct contact. Incubation period is about 14 days (7-18 days) until the onset of rash.
It is highly contagious during 1-2 days before the rash and 4 days after the beginning of the rash ( reason for 5 days no school/day-care ).
The measles comes with fever , red eyes, runny nose, cough and Koplik spots and its rash comes 3-4 days later. The rash is red and blotchy. Measles rash starts at hairline and moves down the body.
Lab tests: Blood test or swab from nose/throat to confirm the diagnosis.
Serology test can be used to check on immunity to measles (health professionals , patients at risk, ...).
Treatment usually is symptomatic, mostly observing for any complications like middle ear infection (25%) , pneumonia (4%) and some rare conditions like encephalitis (1 in 2000) or subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) (1 in 25,000).Last 2 rare complications are basically inflammation of brain caused by measles virus.
It is important to keep the room well ventilated and keep it not too cold or too hot. Have plenty of drinks/fluids for your child and for infants continue on regular feeding. As any other viral illnesses, children can be irritable. It is important to make some time for them to have a game/watch favourite move or just talking to them (stories ). They need to sleep/rest more than their routines.
Monitoring your child is important. We need to check the temperature, breathing ( rate,is it very fast, and if it is difficult or not. Using accessory muscles in neck and upper abdomen can be a sign of difficulty in breathing and needs immediate medical attention) , feeding ( specially in infants if feeding is less than half ).
Now. good question: My child had contact with measles patient. What should I do ?
If not immunised to measles in the past, MMR vaccine can be given in first 72 hours , If they are older than 9 month and another dose as booster 4 weeks later.
If we can not have MMR vaccine ( contraindicated) or if more than first 72 hours normal human immunoglobulin (NHIG) should be injected in first 7 days.
If your child had no measles immunisation in the past, they should stay away from school for 14 days.
Is measles vaccine effective: if your children had at least 2 doses of MMR vaccine, vaccine is effective up to 97% against the measles. 2
Measles in Australia : " Due to an effective vaccination program in Australia, measles is now mostly found among infants too young to be vaccinated and young adults who were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated in childhood. Most cases now diagnosed in Australia can be traced back to a person who became infected overseas." 3
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