A combined report from two major public health organizations said measles was an “eminent threat” to the global community.
Released on Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) feared that a record drop in measles vaccination rates and large, ongoing outbreaks meant the respiratory virus was a ” imminent threat in every region of the world”.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was “absolutely essential” that vaccination programs were put back on track to avoid what he called a “preventable disease”.
“The paradox of the pandemic is that, while vaccines against Covid-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine vaccination programs were severely disrupted and millions of children missed life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles. said Dr. Ghebreyesus.
According to the WHO, India, Somalia and Yemen are the three countries with the largest measles epidemics.
While measles is considered one of the most contagious viruses, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine given during childhood is considered the best defense to reduce future outbreaks.
In Australia, the vaccine is free for children aged 12 to 18 months. People under 20, refugees and humanitarian entrants may also be eligible for a catch-up vaccine.
The CDC says nine out of 10 people who are not vaccinated against the disease will become infected if exposed.
The virus is transmitted through water droplets released in the sneezes and coughs of infected people. Common symptoms include fever, cold symptoms, conjunctivitis, and red, mottled rashes that first appear around the face and hairline before spreading elsewhere in the body.
The characteristic rash usually appears three to four days after the first symptoms appear.
Last week, visitors who transited through Melbourne Airport were asked to monitor for symptoms until Saturday December 3.
Three confirmed cases have been recorded in a family traveling to Melbourne from Singapore, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in 2022 to five.
The passengers boarded Qantas flight QF36/Emirates flight EK5036 in Singapore on Monday and landed at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport around 6.10am on Tuesday. They reportedly stayed inside the airport until 8:40 a.m.
Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Deborah Friedman urged people who have developed symptoms to seek medical attention, wear a mask and call ahead to ensure they can be isolated from others.
She said young children and adults with weakened immune systems are most at risk of serious illness.
“Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that spreads rapidly through close contact, especially among those who are not fully immunized,” Ms Friedman said.
It comes as NSW reported its first case of measles in two years in September this year. A person in their 50s became infected after traveling in Asia and developed symptoms after returning to Sydney.