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Measles case triggers major health alert

Pediatrician makes vaccination to small boy
The highly infectious disease can cause serious conditions such as pneumonia and brain inflammation. Picture: Supplied

An urgent health alert has been issued in Victoria after a new measles case was detected in a returned overseas traveller.

While infectious, the positive case is known to have visited Woolworths Melbourne Square in Southbank on Wednesday , between 5-7pm. It is the only known exposure site.

It comes as the fourth case of the highly infectious disease to be identified in the state this year.

Measles, hand foot and mouth disease, istock
Measles has a characteristic red blotchy rash. Picture: Supplied

Measles, a viral illness, can lead to uncommon but serious complications, such as pneumonia and brain inflammation (encephalitis).

There are currently outbreaks in Africa, Europe, the US and Asia, including Indonesia and India, though any overseas travel could lead to exposure to the disease.

While no longer endemic in Australia and vaccine-preventable, cases can still occur in the community when exposure occurs abroad.

Pediatrician makes vaccination to small boy
The disease is vaccine-preventable and no longer endemic in Australia. Picture: Supplied

Those with measles will experience a red blotchy rash, lasting three or more days, coupled with a fever and possibly a cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis or Koplik spots.

These symptoms typically last from 7-10 days though may not appear until 7-18 days after exposure.

People with measles are potentially infectious from about five days before, to four days after the rash appears.

Measles is highly infectious and can stay in the environment for up to two hours.

3D objects of Measles Viruses in abstract plasma with blood cells
The highly infectious disease can cause serious conditions such as pneumonia and brain inflammation. Picture: Supplied

Pregnant women, young children, adults aged 20 and over and people who are immunocompromised face increased risks of complications from the illness.

Community members born during or since 1966 who have not had two doses of the vaccine are also at risk.

“Anyone who develops symptoms of measles should seek medical care,” the Victorian Department of Health said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Call the health service beforehand to advise that you have been exposed to measles and wear a mask.”

Anyone who attended the Southbank Woolworths during the exposure window on September 20 has been urged to monitor for symptoms until Sunday October 8.