Recent spikes in measles cases once again highlight the importance of immunisation. With three confirmed cases of the highly infectious disease all acquired in my home town, health authorities are urging the public to check their vaccinations are up-to-date.
Vice President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dr Steve Hambleton advises that measles is highly infectious and amongst those susceptible can spread exceedingly quickly.
“The low vaccination rates of northern NSW and South East Queensland create the potential for a sustained spread of the measles virus. Measles is a very nasty disease, people think it’s mild but it’s not and there are long term consequences. We all worry about pandemic influenza, yet measles is at least 10 times more infections. It’s very serious and can result in long term brain damage, short term death, pneumonia and complications including slow congenital changes in the brain, so it’s just not true to say that it’s a benign disease,”
Gold Coast Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Don Staines, said symptoms usually started around 10 days after infection but sometimes longer.
“The initial symptoms are fever, lethargy, runny nose, moist cough and sore and red eyes, followed a few days later by a blotchy red rash. The rash starts on the face then becomes widespread. Anyone who develops measles-like symptoms should contact their GP for advice,”
“They should call the medical practice first to say they could have measles, so staff can take precautions to avoid spreading the disease to others”,
Queensland Health recommends anyone born during or since 1966, who has not had two documented doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine or had proven measles, should visit their local GP for a free extra vaccination.