A measles warning has hit Victoria after three people – incuding a baby – contracted the potentially deadly disease.
The warning comes from the state’s Deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Sutton, who has also issued a list of locations where people have fallen ill with measles. If you live in Melbourne or Ballarat, then you will want to steer clear of these spots.
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. And one that a Victorian family is currently facing after their baby boy was recently diagnosed with a case of measles.
Baby the third measles victim
The infant is the third confirmed case of measles in Victoria in September 2017, sparking health warnings for those who may have been exposed to the highly infectious illness. In addition to the little boy, a man and a woman have also been hospitalised with confirmed cases of measles.
It is suggested the man may have contracted the disease overseas as he was visiting Romania prior to becoming ill. The man returned to Australia on September 12 and became unwell on September 13, so authorities believe he was most likely infectious on the flights home. He took Qatar Airways flight QR222 from Bucharest to Doha, Qatar, before flying to Melbourne on flight QR904.
Ballarat and Melbourne residents on measles alert
“The source of the infection is unknown at this point. This means there may already be secondary cases in the community which have not been diagnosed,” Dr Sutton says.
However, some of the potential places where the victims may have contacted the illness include shopping outlets such as IKEA and Kmart as well as educational facilities such as Federation University and St Kilda Library. Additional potential infectious areas include train stations and Melbourne airport.
Specific exposure sites include:
Between 20 August — 1 September, 2017:
- Metro trains (Frankston line) between Armadale and Southern Cross
- Southern Cross Station and Armadale Station
- St Kilda Library (specifically August 25 and August 30)
- Collins Street, Docklands
Two measles patients spent time while infectious at the following locations:
- Ikea Richmond (6 September 11am — 1pm)
- Spotlight Carnegie ( 7 September 11.30am — 12.30pm)
- Chadstone Shopping Centre — specifically Kmart (7 September 12pm — 3.30pm)
- Federation University, Ballarat, Mt Helen Campus (8 September)
- Chadstone Shopping Centre (9 September 10am — 1pm)
- Frankston Train line (peak hour travel time) — Armadale Station and Southern Cross Station, Collins St, Docklands (11 and 12 September)
- Qatar Airways flight QR222 and QR904 (12 September)
- Ikea Richmond (13 September 11am — 1.30pm)
“Anyone who visited those areas at the relevant times should watch out for a rapidly developing rash,” Dr Sutton says. He also urges anyone with symptoms to warn their GP before they visit.
Measles is highly infectious and airborne and can stay in the environment for up to two hours. Just being in the same room as someone with measles can result in infection.
It has an incubation period of between seven and 18 days which means “new cases may not show symptoms of the highly infectious illness until October 4,” Dr Sutton warns.
The department says anyone who had not been vaccinated is at risk of contracting measles.
What to watch for:
Symptoms of measles
First symptoms include fever, tiredness, cough, runny nose, sore red eyes and feeling unwell. A few days later a rash appears. The rash starts on the face, spreads down to the body and lasts for 4-7 days. The rash is not itchy.
People with measles are usually infectious from just before the symptoms begin until four days after the rash appears. The time from exposure to becoming sick is usually about 10 days. The rash usually appears around 14 days after exposure.
What are the risks?
- Up to a third of people with measles have complications. These include ear infections, diarrhoea and pneumonia, and may require hospitalisation.
- About one in every 1000 people with measles develops encephalitis (swelling of the brain).
Measles is not the only illness plaguing Victoria. A grieving father is urging parents to be vigilant for signs of the flu after the influenza death of his eight-year-old daughter.