Measles outbreak in northern NSW and Queensland

Published on August 23, 2010 at 10:05 PM · No Comments

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

There is a confirmed measles outbreak just south of the Queensland border according to Queensland Health authorities. There have been seven cases of this highly infectious disease at Tweed Heads, NSW, including a person who reportedly visited a McDonald’s restaurant at Coolangatta over the weekend. Any residents who visited the fast food outlet between 8am and 1pm on Saturday are advised to check their vaccination status.

The health authorities confirmed that the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine must be given within 72 hours of exposure. There have been six students from a high school in Tweed Heads who were diagnosed with measles last week.

Dr Steven Donohue, Tropical Regional Services Medical Officer assured that Queensland Health would actively investigate all cases and take steps to prevent further transmission. He said, “In addition, we are alerting hospitals and GPs to watch for patients with measles symptoms in the coming weeks.” The QH also issued a warning that more than 150 mine workers in Moranbah, 190 kilometres south-west of Mackay, are at risk of contracting measles after coming into contact with a male colleague with measles. The virus is expected to spread from the miners since they travel more often said Dr. Donohue. He added, “We’re concerned about the possibility of the measles virus spreading to the local community and other parts of the state, due to the large number of mobile shift workers.” He urged anyone born after 1966, who has not had two documented doses of Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine or a proven case of measles, to visit their local doctor for a free extra vaccination dose.

Measles is highly contagious and is spread in tiny droplets through coughing and sneezing. The virus can last for several hours in the environment. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, a runny nose, cough and sore red eyes, followed a few days later by a red, blotchy rash.

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