Fears of a major measles outbreak as travellers bring the disease from New Zealand to Australia
- Forty infected recently in the Sunshine coast, Cairns, and the Gold Coast
- People are advised to remain alert for symptoms if recently in areas with cases
- Vaccinations are the best defence – recommended for those travelling to NZ
Experts are concerned a major measles outbreak could unfold as travellers increasingly bring the disease from New Zealand to Australia.
So far in 2019 more than 40 people have been diagnosed in Queensland, compared to 14 for the entirety of 2018.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young fears the contagious illness- which has recently reached Cairns, the Gold Coast, and Sunshine coast- is being flown in from New Zealand, The Courier Mail reports.
Cases have trebled in 12 months, with over 40 people diagnosed in Queensland already, compared to 14 documented for the entirety of 2018 (stock image)
Since the start of the year, New Zealand has recorded more than 1,800 cases – with a handful of Queenslanders accruing symptoms after returning over the Tasman Sea in the past three weeks.
Now, Dr Young has urged holiday-makers to update their vaccinations as New Zealand nears a potential epidemic.
‘Travellers planning on visiting New Zealand in the near future should ensure they are up to date with their vaccinations,’ she said.
‘It is also important that contacts of people who have recently returned or are returning from New Zealand ensure their measles vaccinations are up to date to prevent contracting measles from a returned traveller who is infected.’
Measles – spread through coughing and sneezing – can live airborne for two hours and can lead to other potentially fatal ailments.
It is so infectious that up to 90 per cent of those who come into contact with an ill individual will develop the sickness- if they are not vaccinated.
In two of the latest cases across Queensland, patients were in public areas while unaware they were contagious.
Tropical Public Health Services director Richard Gair says one patient travelled on Sunbus between Smithfield to Cairns and back on October 11, 12 and 13.
People on the bus – and also at Skydive Cairns at Portsmith- were potentially exposed.
If people fear they have measles, they should call a medical practice prior to attendance to warn staff so preventative measures can be taken to stop the virus spreading (stock image)
Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service public health unit director Rosie Muller said Noosa Heads residents should remain alert for symptoms, after an infected New Zealand tourist visited Hastings Street and Noosa Beach between October 5 and 9.
‘We urge anyone who was at these locations during this period to ensure they are protected against measles and to seek medical advice if they develop symptoms,’ Dr Muller said.
Measles symptoms include fever, fatigue, runny nose, a moist cough and sore, red eyes followed a few days later by a blotchy red rash.
Symptoms usually develop ten to 12 days after exposure to an infected person.
If people fear they have measles, they should call a medical practice prior to attendance to warn staff so preventative measures can be taken to stop the virus spreading.