Measles is a viral infection that often causes fever, cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis (pink eye), and a rash in both adults and children. In most cases, measles resolves on its own and those infected make a full recovery. In a small number of cases, measles infection can lead to severe complications including pneumonia, seizures, neurological disease, and death.
Why is there an outbreak in 2019?
In Australia, the majority of measles cases are due to unvaccinated individuals becoming infected while
travelling to countries in which measles is either common or there are outbreaks occurring. As measles
is highly contagious, these people can then spread the disease to others, causing outbreaks,
often before they are aware that they have the virus.
Refer to the Department of Health - Measles Outbreak 2019 website for more information.
Is my child at risk of getting measles?
Your child can get measles if 1) they have not been immunized against measles and 2) they are exposed to someone who is infected with the measles virus. The incubation period — the time from exposure to the onset of illness — is 8 to 12 days. Because an infected person can spread the virus 4 days before the rash appears, it is not always possible to know when exposure has occurred.
How would I know if my child has measles?
Early signs of measles for both children and adults are similar to other viral respiratory illnesses:
high fever, malaise (a feeling of discomfort), cough, runny nose, and red eyes. In some cases,
there may also be white spots, called Koplik spots, on the inside of the mouth.
The rash of measles appears a few days later, beginning on the head and face and
then spreading to the rest of the body. Measles is contagious until 4 days after the appearance of the rash.
If you suspect your child has symptoms of measles or has been exposed to a child known to have measles, reach out to us decide on next steps.
What should I do if there is an outbreak near me?
If your child has received 2 doses of the Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) vaccine, they are very unlikely to
get measles, even if they have been exposed to the virus. If your child has had 1 dose of the vaccine and
you live in an area with a measles outbreak, they can get their second dose of MMR a minimum of 28 days
after the first dose..
If your child is between 6 and 11 months old during an outbreak, your child can get the MMR vaccine to help protect them. However, they will still need 2 doses after one year of age to ensure full immunity.
If your child is less than 6 months old, they cannot get the MMR vaccine. Most mother’s have been immunized, which means the baby will have some protection from maternal antibodies. All family members of an infant less than six months should make sure their immunizations are up to date.
If your child is 12 months old or older, they can get the MMR vaccine now if they have not received it yet.
During a measles outbreak, it is important to keep unimmunized people away from your infant. Be sure to ask about immunization policies at daycare centers, schools, and other venues for children.
During a measles outbreak, it is important to keep unimmunized people away from your infant. Be sure to ask about immunization policies at daycare centers, schools, and other venues for children. If you hear of a measles outbreak near you, go to the Victorian Department of Health website for more information about the outbreak and what measures are recommended for avoiding infection.
When should my child be vaccinated for measles? Is the vaccine safe?
The Department of Health, Commonwealth recommends 2 doses of measles vaccine - one at 12 months of age and another between
4 and 6 years of age. Measles vaccine is given in combination with mumps and rubella vaccines (MMR).
Due to recent measles outbreaks abroad, the Health department recommends that children between 6 and 11 months
who will be traveling internationally be vaccinated against measles before traveling.
The MMR vaccine has been proven safe and highly effective in the 55 years it has been given. Common side effects may include pain and/or swelling at the injection site, fever, and rash. The MMR vaccine does not cause autism.
My child is fully vaccinated, what is the risk of catching measles?
When the MMR vaccine is administered as recommended, it serves as excellent protection from getting measles. The first dose, given at 12 months, is 93% effective, and then 2 doses have been given, the vaccine is over 97% effective. If you are worried about that 3%, keep in mind that in places where there isn’t an outbreak, coming in contact is very unlikely, so the real chances of catching measels once you’ve been vaccinated are essentially zero. In an outbreak, depending on degree of exposure to infected individuals, the chances are slightly higher, but still very low once someone has been vaccinated.
If my child had both doses of the vaccine, should he/she get a booster or get a blood test to check for immunity?
No. If you or your child had both doses of the MMR vaccine, a confirmation blood test or a booster shot in not necessary. A blood test can be done to check for immunity to measles, which is helpful for children and adults when the immunization history is unknown. The blood test is not necessary in most cases when you have a documented history of the vaccine. If you have concerns about whether your vaccinated child is immune to measles, contact us to get in touch with our GPs.