Plea for vaccinations to avoid significant measles outbreak


UPDATE: A leading public health official in the Far North has again urged residents to get vaccinated after the sixth confirmed case of measles in the region

Tropical Public Health Services Cairns director Dr Richard Gair said the latest case in Mareeba was transmitted locally and not imported from overseas.

In addition, this case could have known another person who was diagnosed with disease last week in the same town.

"Measles is one of the most infections diseases known to man," Dr Gair said.

This latest case visited the Coles Supermarket in the town between 9am - 12pm last Friday and health authorities are worried more people will be infected through close contact.

"Symptoms would start 10 days after exposure," Dr Gair said.

Those without immunity and pregnant women are at high risk of contracting measles.

A measles vaccine is prepared on September 10, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
A measles vaccine is prepared on September 10, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

While the majority of Queenslanders are protected against infection, Dr Gair said there are smaller pockets of the non-immunised population where an outbreak could occur.

"It's very difficult to control by isolating and chasing after people following an exposure," he said.

"The only way we can stop transmission locally is to be vaccinated."

Dr Gair admitted some parts of the Far North, including the Tablelands, have low immunisation rates and has warned there could be an outbreak "in significant numbers" within these areas.

If you feel that you have contracted measles, Dr Gair urged people to call their GP or hospital ahead of time so they can be seen straight away.

"What we'll find is somebody sitting in a waiting room for half an hour or an hour and in that period they're very infectious," he said.



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EARLIER: THERE has been another confirmed case of measles in the Far North and health authorities are urging people to seek vaccinations.

The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service has advised a person was unknowingly infectious when they attended Coles Supermarket at Mareeba between 9am - 12pm on Friday November 15.

They have urged unvaccinated people to be immunised and on the alert for symptoms.

It comes more than a week after another Mareeba resident was confirmed to have the disease, likely from overseas.

The CHHHS has also advised the vaccine is free of charge.

"If you are vaccinated within a few days of exposure, this can prevent the development of the disease and will also help protect against measles in the future," the service posted on social media.



"Measles is a highly infectious and serious viral infection which is spread by tiny droplets in the air or by contact with infected secretions from the nose or mouth."

Symptoms include fever, lethargy, a runny nose, a moist cough, sore red eyes and a blotchy red rash occurring between 7 to 18 days after contact.

The CHHHS said anyone born after 1965, who has not had two documented doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine or had proven measles, is encouraged to visit their local family doctor to get vaccinated for measles.

People who suspect they have measles are urged to contact their local medical practice first, so that staff can take precautions to avoid spreading it to others.

For more information about the measles virus call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84)