Measles outbreak in young adults in Victoria, 1999

S. B. Lambert, M. L. Morgan, M. A. Riddell, R. M. Andrews, H. A. Kelly, J. A. Leydon, M. C. Catton, P. A. Lynch, D. K. Gercovich, R. A. Lester, J. A. Carnie, G. J. Rouch

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Objectives: To describe an outbreak of measles in Victoria. Design: Case series with cases identified through enhanced passive surveillance and outbreak-related active surveillance. Setting: State of Victoria, 1999. Main outcome measures: Number of cases; epidemiological links and patterns of transmission; patient demographic features and vaccination status; complications. Results: 75 cases were identified (74 laboratory-confirmed; and one epidemiologically linked to a laboratory-confirmed case), with onset between 11 February and 2 May 1999. The first case was in a 21-year-old woman who had recently holidayed in Bali and worked at a large cinema complex in Melbourne. Sixteen cases occurred in people who had contact with the index case at the cinema on one evening. The outbreak spread to regional Victoria and South Australia. Median age of patients was 22 years; 64 (85%) were born between 1968 and 1981, with only one patient in the age group targeted by the primary school component of the 1998 Australian Measles Control Campaign; this child had not been vaccinated. More than a third of patients (28) were hospitalised (total, 97 inpatient days), and five were healthcare workers. Conclusions: This outbreak was caused by international importation of measles virus. It highlights the change in epidemiology of measles in Australia, from a disease of childhood to one predominantly affecting young adults. A strong two-dose childhood vaccination program, vigilant surveillance, and rapid response to outbreaks will continue to be the basis of measles control, but better protection for young adults should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-471
Number of pages5
JournalThe Medical Journal of Australia
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2000
Externally publishedYes

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