Skip links and keyboard navigation

Measles outbreak sparks health warning for travellers to the Philippines

5 February 2014

Five cases of measles which originated in the Philippines have been reported in Queensland in the last few weeks.

Dr Heidi Carroll, Senior Medical Officer, Communicable Diseases Unit, said the Philippines was currently experiencing a measles outbreak, and urged any visitors to the islands to ensure they were immunised.

"Measles is highly contagious among people who are not fully immunised, especially if people didn't give themselves enough time for the vaccination to work [prior to travel]," she said.

"In recent weeks there have been five cases of measles reported in Queensland associated with travel to the Philippines. Cases from the Philippines have also been reported in Western Australia and New South Wales.

"It is essential you receive your vaccination two weeks prior to going overseas, particularly to the Philippines at the moment," she said.

Dr Carroll said measles was one of the most infectious of all communicable diseases and was spread by tiny droplets through coughing and sneezing.

"True measles is a serious viral infection that causes fever, cough, runny nose, then a red spotty rash and sore eyes a few days later."

"Symptoms usually start around 10 days after infection but sometimes longer, so anyone who develops measles-like symptoms should contact their GP for advice.

"It is very important to call the medical practice first to say you could have measles, so that staff can take precautions to avoid spreading the disease to others," she said.

Dr Carroll said measles could make people very unwell and although complications were uncommon, they could be very serious. Approximately 30 per cent of adults with measles are hospitalised.

"We urge everyone planning on travelling to the Philippines, or any overseas country, to ensure they are up to date with their vaccinations before they travel."

"Anyone born during or after 1966 should have two doses of measles vaccine at least four weeks apart. It is best to discuss with your GP or local immunisation centre about the best time to immunise," she said.

Dr Carroll also advised anyone who had recently moved to Australia from a country where measles was prevalent to also see a doctor to ensure they have had the appropriate vaccinations.

For general health advice about measles, call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or visit the Queensland Government immunisation webpage

Last updated: 11 June 2014