Beware of measles hot spots these school holidays

Wednesday, 12 April 2017 

Families planning their school holiday getaway are reminded to ensure their measles vaccinations are up to date, especially if they are travelling overseas.

SA Health’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paddy Phillips said while we are yet to see a measles case in South Australia this year, national data shows the number of cases is relatively high in comparison to previous years.

“We’re only just over three months in to 2017 yet nationally we have seen 43 cases of measles, the majority of which were acquired in Bali, compared to just 99 cases around the country for the whole of 2016,” Professor Phillips said.

“Although we haven’t seen any cases this year in South Australia, we know that people like to make the most of the school holidays by travelling to neighbouring locations that can often be measles hot spots.

“There are measles outbreaks in a number of countries in Southeast Asia so it is vital that people travelling to that region confirm they have had two doses of the measles vaccine before leaving home.

“If you’re not sure whether you’ve had two measles vaccinations or if you’re travelling soon, I’d recommend not taking the risk and have another vaccination so measles doesn’t ruin your holiday.”

Despite no measles cases recorded in South Australia this year, Professor Phillips said people should not be complacent.

“While we are fortunate that we are yet to see any cases here this year, people need to be vigilant as measles can be a nasty viral illness commencing with a fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes, followed by a blotchy rash that begins on the head and spreads down the body,” Professor Phillips said.

“The illness is highly contagious, it makes people feel very sick and complications can be severe, so I would encourage everyone to make sure they get the highly effective vaccine.

“Immunisation provides the best protection against measles and it’s vital that people have two doses of the measles vaccine to protect themselves and the community.”

Many people born in the late 1960s to mid-1980s only received one measles vaccine, so anyone born during or after 1966 should visit their GP to confirm their vaccination status.

South Australia recorded 11 measles cases in 2016, compared to four cases in 2015.

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