Health alert issued after two contract measles at Australian university graduation ceremony

January 6, 2015 11:24 pm 

MELBOURNE, Jan. 6 — Thousands of university graduates and their families exposed to the measles virus while attending a graduation ceremony in Melbourne, Australia were assured by their university on Tuesday that those vaccinated should be immune.

An 11-year-old from Victoria and a 17-year-old from the Northern Territory, who both contracted the virus, had no connection other than they both attended the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology graduation ceremony in Melbourne on Dec. 17.

"Anyone with documented evidence of measles in the past or record of vaccination against measles is considered immune," the university said on Twitter on Tuesday.

All staff and graduates were advised via email of the two confirmed cases on Monday evening, a day after the maximum incubation period for the disease had lapsed.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester confirmed to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday that the infected pair was not vaccinated.

"We think that they've almost certainly contracted the measles at the ceremony from someone who is probably unidentified who was infectious at the time," said Dr Lester.

"Measles is very highly infectious and it will seek out people who are unvaccinated."

Dr Lester issued a state-wide health alert to general practitioners and hospitals to be on the lookout for patients presenting with a fever or a rash.

Dr Lester said while a large number of cases were not expected, it was "quite possible" more cases will be reported in the coming days.

In March last year, the World Health Organization announced Australia as one of four Western Pacific nations or areas to have completely eliminated local strains of measles. Despite a large- scale vaccination program over the past 20 years, around 7 per cent of Australians remain unimmunised. "It is a concern to me that we still do have people who are needlessly at risk of what's a very serious disease," Dr Lester said. (PNA/Xinhua)

FPV/SSC

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