Measles alert, Zika case

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

SYMP­TOMS would now be present in any­one if they were ex­posed to measles af­ter a tourist was hos­pi­talised with the dis­ease at the week­end.

The Trop­i­cal Pub­lic Health Unit is­sued the alert for Air­lie Beach and Proser­pine fol­low­ing the di­ag­no­sis. Mean­while, an im­ported case of Zika virus was con­firmed in Bowen af­ter a Bowen res­i­dent tested pos­i­tive af­ter re­turn­ing from over­seas.

DOC­TOR Manda Brits is not sur­prised that dis­eases, such as measles and the Zika virus, are ap­pear­ing in the Whit­sun­days, be­cause the con­cen­tra­tion of tourists in the re­gion in­creased the health risk.

Dr Brits works at the Travel Clinic North Mackay, and checks in with the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion daily on what dis­eases and health is- sues are ap­pear­ing around the world.

She said the high num­ber of tourists with­out im­mu­ni­sa­tion in the Whit­sun­day pop­u­la­tion low­ered the pro­tec­tion of “herd im­mu­nity”.

“We all have that idea that Europe is safe, but with con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors to im­mu­ni­sa­tion and the in­flux of refugees from coun­tries where there was no vac­ci­na­tion pro­gram (it’s in­creased the risks),” she said.

She says it’s the same the­ory as why there is a greater risk in places like the Whit­sun­days, as un­vac­ci­nated tourists di­lute the im­mu­ni­sa­tion rate of the pop­u­la­tion.

“Yes, there is def­i­nitely a higher risk in places like the Whit­sun­days,” she said.

Her com­ments come af­ter an im­ported case of Zika virus was con­firmed in Bowen.

Townsville Pub­lic Heath Unit di­rec­tor Dr Steven Dono­hue said the Bowen res­i­dent had tested pos­i­tive for the virus af­ter re­turn­ing from over­seas, stress­ing that there is no out­break at this stage.

Vec­tor con­trol teams were de­ployed to Bowen on Sun­day, find­ing a num­ber of pock­ets of Aedes ae­gypti, with fur­ther sprays planned.

Dr Dono­hue said the risk of trans­mis­sion is low as the res­i­dent was only home for a few days while un­well and Zika can­not be trans­mit­ted from per­son to per­son.

More in­for­ma­tion about Zika can be found at: health.qld.gov.au/zika.

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