News

25-07-2016

There is currently an outbreak of measles centred on a Northbridge backpacker hostel, following the return of one young traveller who caught the disease whilst in Bali .  People have potentially been exposed to measles during July in pubs, nightclubs, supermarkets and shops in and around Northbridge and in Royal Perth Hospital ED.

People with measles are generally very unwell with fever, runny nose, conjunctivitis, cough, aches and after 2-7 days of nonspecific symptoms, a classical rash which is present with fever. A throat or nose swab ( also can be via blood and urine testing) can be done to make the diagnosis.

If you attend a General Practice or Emergency Department due to concern that you may have measles, please call ahead or immediately notify the reception staff, as you should be given a surgical mask and isolated to protect other people.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella ( MMR) vaccine is given at the 12 month vaccination in our Immunisation Schedule and a second dose at the 18 months vaccinations ( with changing schedules, this is sometimes given at the 4 year old vaccination to catch-up). A booster is also recommended for those born after 1969 unless they have documentation of two vaccinations having been given.

The recent increase in measles cases in Australia highlight the need for a 2 vaccine coverage. A national survey in early 1999 and 2000 demonstrated that those most at risk of measles infections were infants under 1 years and persons born in the late 1960's to mid 1980's ( particularly the 1978-1982 cohort) , during their childhood a second doses was not yet recommended and disease exposure was low. They have also missed out on catch-up vaccinations during their school years which only targeted primary school children.

In 1998 Andrew Wakefield published a fraudulent paper about 12 children reportedly with bowel symptoms and autism after administration of MMR vaccine. In 2010 Wakefield's research was found by the General Medical Council to be dishonest and The Lancet fully retracted the paper. Wakefield was struck off the UK medical register and barred from practising medicine. Many peer-reviewed studies have failed to show any association between the vaccine and autism. Many parents chose not to vaccinate their children with the MMR vaccine after Wakefield's paper was published  In 1998 there were 56 cases of measles in the UK, by 2008 there was 1348 cases and 2 confirmed deaths.

MMR vaccine can be given after exposure within 72 hours of a non-immune person being exposed to measles. Administration of normal human Immunoglobulin is recommended in some settings ( for immuno-compromised )at the advice of public health authorities.

for more information see http://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/J_M/Measles

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