Measles is back on the rise in Australia.
Measles is back on the rise in Australia.

Shock figure reveals Australia’s measles shame

THE growing number of measles cases is sparking health concerns as the figure soars across the country.

Nationally, as of May 9, there have been 109 cases of measles reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System - already more than for the entire years in 2018 and 2017.

There were 103 for the whole of 2018 and 81 for 2017.

The man, aged in his 30s, spent time in Melbourne earlier this month, visiting various areas including Coburg, Mornington, St Kilda and Williamstown and is now recovering in a hospital in Vietnam.

The case is unrelated to the four cases of measles recently confirmed in Victorian residents.

One of the nation's most respected immunisation experts, Professor Robert Booy from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, said if the number of cases continued to rise at the current rate there was the chance of a reversal in the World Health Organisation-awarded status.

"This is the time for a call to action. Teenagers and adults under the age of 53 should check their immunity," he said.

"Vaccination is the only foolproof way to eliminate the highly contagious disease.

"While I am confident we are unlikely to lose our elimination status there is certainly a risk and we must be vigilant."

The WHO gave Australia the significant public health achievement in 2014 when it was verified that there was no local strain of measles circulating in the community and the nation had a proficient surveillance system to rapidly detect and respond to cases.

Measles is easily spread and at least 95 per cent of people generally need to be vaccinated for there to be enough immunity across the population to stop spread and help protect those who cannot be vaccinated.

Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Angie Bone urged the public to ensure they are up-to-date on their measles vaccinations.

"There is a lot of measles circulating in our region currently, including much of South East and Southern Asia. All travellers need to be aware of this risk," Dr Bone said.

"Anyone who is unvaccinated is at highest risk of contracting measles. People need to have received two doses of measles-containing vaccine to be fully protected."

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