Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease; caused by the measles virus. Symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person and last 7–10 days. Initial symptoms typically include fever, often greater than 40 °C (104 °F), cough, runny nose, and inflamed eyes. Small white spots known as Koplik’s spots may form inside the mouth two or three days after the start of symptoms. A red, flat rash which usually starts on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body typically begins three to five days after the start of symptoms.
Measles is an airborne disease which spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of infected people. It may also be spread through contact with saliva or nasal secretions. Nine out of ten people who are not immune and share living space with an infected person will be infected. People are infectious to others from four days before to four days after the start of the rash. Most people who contract the measles are not infected more than once. Testing for the measles virus in suspected cases is important for public health efforts.
A major education campaign
Australia launched a major education campaign to encourage its residents; particularly those travelling overseas, to get; vaccinated against measles as a sudden spike in cases amid a global resurgence causes alarm. Measles—an airborne infection causing fever, coughing and rashes that can be deadly in rare cases—was declared officially eliminated from Australia by the World Health Organisation in 2014.
In developed nations including Australia however, the growing anti-vaccine movement has seen a reemergence of the disease. The announcement by Health Minister Greg Hunt came as a spate of cases hit Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, with the latest infection alert on Sunday involving two people who holidayed in the Philippines. Hunt said; there were 83 measles cases so far this year; compared to 103 for all of last year and 81 for 2017.
“I am concerned about the recent increases in measles cases in Australia and want to make sure our community is well protected against this very serious disease,” Hunt said in a statement. He warned that due to changing vaccine schedules for Australians born between 1966 and 1994, some people may have received only one dose of vaccine, instead of two, making them more susceptible to infection. Promotional materials including videos were being; developed by the Australian Academy of Science to raise awareness about the need to be fully vaccinated, he added. Some 93.5% of two-year-olds in Australia have received two doses of measles vaccine.