Local News

Measles Outbreak Continues

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The local outbreak of measles has now reached four cases following the confirmation of two further cases of this highly contagious disease being diagnosed in Darwin.

Territorians are warned to be alert for measles and get a measles containing vaccine, known as the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, if required.

“At this point there are no direct links with the new cases to the previous cases so it is not clear where these new cases, who have not travelled outside of the local area, acquired their disease. Knowing the incubation period for measles and the timing of past cases make it likely that other non-immune people may be developing symptoms of measles in Darwin from today and for the next three weeks,” said Dr Vicki Krause, Director of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC is contacting people who may have had contact with these measles cases to provide them with information and to offer preventive treatment or immunisation as appropriate.

“You can catch measles very easily from public places such as shopping centres, waiting rooms, movie theatres and cafes when local measles cases are occurring in Darwin. So it is important to be aware that, if you are not immune you are at risk,” Dr Krause said.

“To be immune to measles you need to have had measles previously or have had two doses of the measles-containing vaccine, known as the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The vaccine is given as part of the routine national vaccination schedule at 12 months and at 18 months, but people born between 1966 and 1996 may have only had one dose as a child and should check their record. If uncertain, an MMR vaccine is recommended.

“While generally we have a well-vaccinated population, now is the time to make sure you are immune to measles and if you are uncertain now is the time to attend your local community care centre or GP for a free MMR immunisation.”

Measles is a very contagious viral illness that spreads between people through coughing and sneezing. The symptoms of measles are fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes, which usually occur 7-10 days after exposure to a case. A few days later days later a red blotchy rash appears often starting on the face and then becomes widespread over the body.

“It is very important to call your medical practice first if you think you might have measles, so that staff can take precautions to avoid you spreading it to others,” Dr Krause said.

Up to one third of people infected with measles will experience a complication. Complications are more common in young children and adults and include ear infections, diarrhoea, pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and may require hospitalisation.

For more information about measles visit https://nt.gov.au/wellbeing/health-conditions-treatments/viral/measles