OUTBREAK: A measles alert has been issued for Mackay and Townsville.
OUTBREAK: A measles alert has been issued for Mackay and Townsville. Contributed

Urgent health alert issued for Mackay, Townsville

A MEASLES alert has been issued for Mackay and Townsville after a confirmed case of a child who returned from Bali and visited public areas in both cities.

The highly infectious illness primarily affects the respiratory tract with fever, cough, red eyes and then a red splotchy rash.

Townsville Public Health unit director Dr Steven Donohue said the child flew into Townsville on Tuesday, April 18 on Jetstar flight JQ101.

The child visited McDonald's and Subway in North Ward, Townsville in the morning of April 18 before returning home to Mackay.

The child presented to the Mackay GP Superclinic on Wednesday 19 April, as well as the Chemmart Pharmacy and Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology next door.

The diagnosis of measles was confirmed on April 21.

"Staff from the general practice and staff from public health units in Mackay and Townsville are contacting people who may have come into contact with the child," Dr Donohue said.

Measles is a highly infectious virus spread by coughing or sneezing.

Vaccination with two doses of MMR vaccine is the most effective means of protecting yourself against measles.

If in any doubt, an extra dose of MMR vaccination for anyone born in/after 1966 is available free from your GP or child health centre.

People who may have come into contact with the child and who do not have immunity from either the MMR vaccination or a previous confirmed infection may become unwell in the coming week.

The illness is usually non-specific in the first two to four days and includes fever followed by conjunctivitis, a runny nose and cough.

A red blotchy rash appears two to seven days after the first onset of symptoms and begins on the face and upper neck, becomes generalised and lasts for four to seven days. Measles can be a severe disease complicated by pneumonia or encephalitis.

Dr Donohue said anyone displaying these symptoms should call ahead before visiting doctors' rooms, hospital EDs or pathology services. No further information about the child will be released for privacy reasons.