Measles is a serious disease that is easily spread through the air. Immunisation is effective in preventing the disease. All children and adults born during or after 1966 should be vaccinated with 2 doses of MMR vaccine if not already immune.
What is measles?
Measles is an acute viral disease that may have serious complications. In the past, measles infection was very common in childhood. Now, due to immunisation, measles infection is rare in Australia.
What are the symptoms?
The first symptoms of infection with measles are fever, tiredness, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes. These symptoms usually last for a few days before a red blotchy rash appears. The rash starts on the face over 1-2 days and spreads down to the body. The rash will last for 4-7 days.
Up to a third of people infected with measles will experience a complication. Complications are more common in young children and in adults. Complications include ear infections, diarrhoea and pneumonia, and may require hospitalisation. About one in every 1000 people with measles develops encephalitis (swelling of the brain).
How is it spread?
Who is at risk?
If it is more than three days and less than seven days have passed since coming into contact with measles, an injection called immunoglobulin can protect you. Immunoglobulin contains antibodies against the measles virus and is especially recommended for young children and people with underlying illnesses who have a greater risk of developing complications if they catch measles. Subsequent immunisation with MMR and chickenpox vaccines should not be given until five months after immunoglobulin as the immunoglobulin antibodies can prevent the vaccine from working.
How is it prevented?
How is it diagnosed?
Measles can be difficult to diagnose early in the illness because there are many other viruses that cause similar illnesses with fever and a rash. Sometimes the presence of white spots inside the mouth, called Koplik spots, the timing of the fever and the rash, and the characteristics of the rash can help a doctor to make the diagnosis.
Whenever measles is suspected, a blood test or samples from the nose, throat or urine can be collected to confirm the diagnosis in the laboratory. Confirming the diagnosis is important so that other people who may be at risk of measles can be identified.
How is it treated?
What is the public health response?
Doctors, hospitals and laboratories must notify cases of measles to the local Public Health Unit. Public Health Unit staff will interview the doctor or patient (or carers) to find out how the infection occurred, identify other people at risk of infection, implement control measures (such as immunisation and restrictions on attending school or work) and provide other advice.
Further information – Public Health Units
|Public Health Unit ||Telephone ||Public Health Unit ||Telephone |