Issued: 7 February 2001
There is an outbreak of measles in Melbourne. The majority of cases have occurred in the 18 to 30 year age group, which is an age group particularly susceptible to measles infection due to low immunisation coverage during their childhood. Many of the cases have been hospitalised.
The public health definition for suspected measles is an illness characterised by:
- morbilliform rash; and
- cough; and
- fever present at the time of rash onset.
What can you do?
- Think measles in patients who present with a febrile rash illness.
- Notify any patient that you suspect could have measles immediately to the Department of Human Services on telephone 1300 651 160 or facsimile 1300 651 170.
- Take blood to confirm the diagnosis with serology. Measles specific IgM antibodies usually occur 3-4 days after rash onset.
- Minimise transmission in your surgery by:
- examining patients suspected of having measles in their homes, if possible;
- if not, avoid keeping the patient in your waiting room and instead, take them directly to a consulting room. (Ideally, that room should not be used for another patient for at least two hours after the consultation).
- if the person with suspected measles has contact with other people who have attended the rooms at the same time or within two hours after the visit, these people may be at risk of infection and should be treated as contacts.
5. Treat susceptible contacts of a measles patient with:
- MMR if within 72 hours of first contact with the patient or
- Immunoglobulin if longer than 72 hours but less than 7 days from contact.
For advice concerning contact treatment, call the Communicable Diseases Section on 1300 651160.
6. Vaccinate any susceptible staff aged under 30 years.
7. Review the vaccination status of all children and young adults (under 30 years of age) attending your practice for any reason, and vaccinate with MMR if required. Children under 18 years of age should have two documented doses normally given at 12 months and 4 years of age. All persons between 18 years and 30 years of age should have documentation (a personal immunisation record) of at least one dose of a measles containing vaccine. Women should be asked about their last menstrual period to ensure that they are not pregnant and advised that they should not become pregnant for two months following receipt of the vaccine.