News

09-08-2017

Measles is again in the Perth news, and provides a reminder that everyone born between 1966 - 2000  is recommended to have two documented  vaccinations for measles (it comes in the form of a combined vaccine with mumps and rubella, the MMR. Monovalent vaccine is not available in Australia). The vaccine was initially given as a single dose on the national schedule at 12 months in 1989 and the recommendation for a second dose included in the schedule in 1992, when it was given through a school-based delivery between 10-14 years of age. It was not until 2000 that the two doses were given by before school and were more consistently administered. If doubt exists, a blood test can provide evidence of immunity.

Several countries in Europe are currently experiencing outbreaks, with an example , the recent unvaccinated Perth high school student contracting measles during a holiday to Italy. Travellers to Bali and Asia regularly return to Perth after contracting measles

MMR containing vaccines are not routinely recommended for infants less than 12 months of age, but can be given to children from as early as 9 months in certain circumstance, such as travel to areas with outbreaks or high risk of transmission.

 Meningococcal W incidence has been increasing since 2013, research has shown that vaccinating those 15-19 years provides the most effective way to prevent the spread of the disease in the Community. The Health Department has a statewide immunisation program that was introduced through schools this year. From Term 4, depending on availability of the vaccine, GPs will be able to order vaccines and will be advised through VaccineUpdates when vaccines are available to order.

People may arrange for vaccination for themselves or children privately through their GP to reduce their risk of disease.

Meningococcal ACWY vaccine can be given from 2 months of age and Meningococcal B vaccine from 6 weeks. Meningococcal C vaccine is recommended and funded under the National Immunisation Programme from 12 months of age.

The Department of Health has extended eligibility for free catch-up immunisations to all 10-19 year olds and refugees of all ages in an expansion of the National Immunisation Program that commenced at the beginning of July 2017. The policy covers measles, mumps, meningococcal, polio, whooping cough, chickenpox and HPV. see: Policy

 There has been further recent cases of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome ( MERS) , with warnings issued for those about to undertake the Hajj or Umra . MERS was first identified in the Middle East on 2012. The cause is a new coronavirus that can cause a rapid onset severe respiratory illness and death in about 40% of cases. Most severe cases have occurred in people with underlying medical conditions making them more vulnerable to chest infections. All cases have occurred in those either living or visiting the Middle East. Camels are suspected as being the source of infection, but the exact nature of exposure is still unknown. Countries considered at risk include the Arabian Peninsula and neighbours .

All travellers, especially those with chronic medical conditions, should practise good general health measures such as hand washing with soap and water, particularly when visiting markets and farms, avoid close contact with sick people, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose. Travellers are warned to avoid contact with camels, avoid raw camel milk and camel products, avoid all raw milk and raw milk products and food contaminated with animal secretions unless thoroughly cooked or peeled.

There is no current vaccination for MERS CoV.

The Australian Health Department provides an information card for travellers about MERS at health.gov.au and further information can be found at travelhealthpro.org.uk

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