Measles alert, Zika case
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.