People born during or since 1966 should check whether they are protected against measles, especially those who are planning to travel overseas.
The funded measles vaccine was introduced in Australia in 1970. However, the two-dose measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine program was only introduced in 1992.
Acting Medical Director Communicable Diseases Branch, Dr Jonathan Malo, said while one dose offered some protection, two doses of the MMR vaccine were needed to be fully protected against measles.
“While there was a large-scale measles catch-up vaccination program in all primary schools in 1998 and a measles catch-up program for young adults in 2001, many adults may have missed out on the second vaccine,” Dr Malo said.
“Those who received only one dose may mistakenly think they are fully protected.”
In 2018, there were 14 cases of measles reported in Queensland. So far this year, there have been 12 measles cases notified in Queensland.
Three of these cases were acquired overseas and generated a further five cases in Queensland; Two were infected interstate, and one of these cases infected one other person in Queensland.
The source of infection was not known for one case however they are understood to have been in a similar vicinity to another confirmed case.
“Every year we see cases of measles in people who acquire their infection overseas and then spread the disease while in Queensland,” Dr Malo said.
“These recent cases are a timely reminder for people to check if they’ve been fully vaccinated against measles, particularly before they travel overseas.”
Dr Malo said measles was one of the most infectious of all communicable diseases and was spread by tiny droplets generated through coughing and sneezing
Measles symptoms usually start around 10 days after contact, but could occur between seven and 18 days after contact with an infectious person.
“The initial symptoms of measles include fever, lethargy, runny nose, moist cough and sore and red eyes,” she said.
“This is followed a few days later by a blotchy, red rash. The rash often starts on the face and neck, then becomes widespread over the body.
“There is no treatment for measles and it can be very serious. It can cause a number of complications including ear infections, pneumonia, meningitis and brain damage.
“Anyone born during or since 1966, who does not have two documented doses of MMR vaccine should visit their GP or other vaccine provider for a free booster.”