Health confirms new measles cases

QUEENSLAND health authorities have warned about a measles outbreak in Townsville with two new cases confirmed, both linked to another man who was diagnosed with the highly contagious virus last week.

The cases take the number of measles notifications for Queensland so far this year to 11 - only three fewer than for the whole of 2018.

Measles is one of the world's most infectious diseases and in rare cases, can be deadly.

Both of the new cases are young men who are work contacts of a middle-aged man diagnosed last week after returning to Townsville from Darwin.

Townsville Public Health Unit director Steven Donohue said people who may have been exposed to the latest cases were being contacted.

An image of a measles cell.
An image of a measles cell.

Dr Donohue said one of the men had visited Townsville's Northern Beaches GP Super Clinic between 1pm and 1.30pm on April 1.

He also visited Totally Workwear at Currajong and Pet Barn Deeragun about noon on March 30 and the Parry Nissan dealership at Sturt Street, Townsville, from 12.30 to 1pm on April 1.

Queensland Health's acting Communicable Diseases Branch medical director Jonathan Malo said he was concerned that because measles was much less common than in previous generations, people were not aware of how serious a disease it could be.

Dr Malo said complications could include pneumonia and encephalitis, inflammation of the brain, which could be deadly.

He said people should check their immunisation status.

People born after 1965 should have received two doses of the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine. The vaccine is free and available from general practitioners.

Dr Malo said people should particularly ensure their vaccines were up to date before travelling overseas.

Measles symptoms usually start at around 10 days after contact with an infectious person.

Initial symptoms include a fever, fatigue, runny nose, moist cough and sore, red eyes.

These are followed a few days later by a blotchy, red rash. The rash often starts on the face and neck, then spreads over the body.

People with measles symptoms should call ahead before visiting a doctor's rooms or hospital emergency department so that staff can take precautions to avoid the virus spreading to others.

For further advice, call 13 HEALTH.

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