Measles and travel

As the summer approaches our patients are asking about the risk of measles and other travel vaccinations and precautions to take.

For those of  us not used to seeing measles, it  is a truly horrible disease which is easily passed from one person to another.

Even in previously healthy individuals it can cause serious illness requiring hospitalization.

About 10% of measles cases develop complications.  Common complications  include ear infections, pneumonia, laryngotracheobronchitis, and diarrhoea.

  • One out of every 1,000 measles cases will develop acute brain inflammation which often results in permanent brain damage.
  • One to three out of every 1,000 children who become infected with measles will die from respiratory and neurologic complications.
  • There is also a risk of a rare, but fatal degenerative disease of the central nervous system that generally develop 7 to 10 years after measles infection.

Thankfully measles is not as common in Mt Gravatt as it used to  be  due to well established immunisation program. However, here at Reydon Street  Medical Centre we receive regular alerts about measles cases in Brisbane and the rest of Australia. Measles is even more common in many parts of the world, including parts  of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa, with outbreaks often occurring. Even travellers to New Zealand and the United Kingdom are at risk.

Two doses of MMR vaccine provide 97% protection against measles; one dose provides 93% protection (CDC)

Adults and  children who have not received two MMR shots remain at risk

Our younger patients would currently receive two Measles , mumps and Rubella immunisations when they are 12  and 18 months. Parents and older adults can check their immunisation records at Australian Childhood Immunisation Register.

The Australian Handbook of Immunisation recommends:

“All adolescents and adults born during or since 1966 should have either:

  • documented evidence of 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine given at least 4 weeks apart and with both doses given ≥12 months of age, or
  • serological evidence of immunity to measles, mumps and rubella.”

We can help  patients check their immune status and  offer advice on other immunisations and precautions that  might be recommended before they travel overseas.

Immunisations  usually take around two weeks to  become effective, so it is good  to plan ahead. It is often a good idea to consult your doctor about 3 months prior to travel to allow planning and courses of immunisations to be completed.

Our Travel Advice section gives more general advice and has links to other helpful resources like the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC) and Smart Traveller websites

To book an appointment with one of our doctors  visit our Bookings page

For other general advice prior to  travel  the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Smartraveller website offers  more advice.

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