News

27-08-2018

The measles virus is highly contagious , being spread by coughing and sneezing, it remains one of the leading causes of death among young children worldwide despite there being a safe and effective vaccine in use since the 1960s.  Those infected are contagious for 4 days before and after the blotchy rash develops. Before the introduction of the vaccine in 1963, major epidemics occurred regularly and the virus caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year.

It remains deeply disturbing that a few celebrities and a discredited scientist were able to start the tragedy that is the anti-vaccine movement. This year, more than 41,000 cases of measles have been reported in Europe, with at least 37 deaths from the infection. France, Russia, Greece, Italy, Serbia, Georgia and Russia have registered at least 1000 cases each so far this year. No child needs to die from measles today.

The current Immunisation Guideline recommendations advise everyone born during or after 1966 who is over 18 years of age to have documented evidence of two doses of the MMR-containing vaccine ( administered at least 4 weeks apart ) or have serological evidence of protection against measles, mumps and rubella. This advice is particularly important for those planning international travel especially to Bali and Southeast Asia. Those born before 1966 are considered to be immune to measles.  The WA Health department issued a recent alert  following 6 cases of measles being registered in early August 2018. There has been 11 cases of confirmed measles in WA residents since the end of July 2018. Many have become infected whilst travelling to Bali and the Philippines of from contact with infected people before the illness has developed and most of the cases have been young adults.

There is no treatment for measles virus. Complications following measles can be serious and include ear infection, pneumonia and encephalitis. Approximately 30% of those infected will require hospital admission. 

There have been further cases of meningococcal infection in Western Australia, the recent cases have been in children aged under five years of age who had not received their free paediatric meningococcal ACWY vaccination. Meningococcal disease is an uncommon bacterial infection, but is  life threatening and progresses rapidly if contracted. This year there have been 19 cases reported, 13 of these have been serogroup W, 4 serogroup B and 2, serogroup Y. last year there as a total of 46 cases in WA.

The WA paediatric meningococcal ACWY vaccine catch-up program is finishing at the end of 2018.( All children aged from 1-4 years are eligible for a free meningococcal vaccine until then.) Currently only 47% of children in this age group have received this vaccine, with over 73 000 children in the community remaining unprotected. The State Health Department funds a vaccination program for all adolescents aged 15-19 years available for incoming year 10 student at schools and through immunisation providers.

The serogroup B vaccine remains available for infants and adolescents from GP Clinics, despite ongoing lobbying, the vaccine is not currently funded by any of the Australian Health Departments

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