Public urged to watch out for Rubella (German Measles)

Public urged to watch out for Rubella (German Measles)
The North Coast Public Health Unit is advising people in Nimbin and surrounding areas to be on alert after four people living in the Nimbin area were diagnosed with rubella infection.

The spacing between the cases suggests that there have been other infectious cases in the local area that have not been diagnosed or reported.

Greg Bell, Public Health Assistant Director said although rubella is very uncommon in Australia due to high vaccination rates, it is important that residents are aware that it is currently circulating in the community.

“Rubella is a viral infection that is usually mild in nature but can have very serious consequences for unborn babies if mothers contract the infection during pregnancy,” Mr Bell said.

“Infection during pregnancy can result in congenital rubella syndrome in up to 90% of infants born to women infected in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. The risk is considerably reduced after the 20th week of gestation,” Mr Bell said.

Congenital rubella syndrome can result in miscarriage and a range of congenital problems including but not limited to, intellectual disabilities, deafness, cataracts and heart abnormalities. Affected babies may suffer one or more of these problems.

“Symptoms of rubella may include a mild fever and a red blotchy rash over the entire body. The rash lasts for around three days but children may not develop noticeable symptoms. It’s important to note that up to 50% of people with rubella infection will show no symptoms,” Mr Bell said.

“Vaccination with measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best way to prevent infection. Two doses of MMR vaccine are recommended for children with the first at 12 months and the second at 18 months of age,” Mr Bell said.

People born during or after 1966 and don’t have two documented doses of MMR vaccine should contact their local health provider for vaccination advice. The MMR vaccine is available free to people born during or after 1966.

“The time from exposure to the onset of symptoms is typically 14 to 17 days but can be up to 21 days. People are infectious for seven days before the onset of the rash until at least four days after the appearance of the rash. Anyone who contracts rubella should stay away from pregnant women, work, preschool, school and other public places until at least four days after the onset of the rash,” Mr Bell said.

Anyone with symptoms should contact their General Practitioner or Emergency Department in advance before arriving for treatment to ensure that they can be isolated from other patients.

Vaccination is the most effective way of preventing the occurrence of congenital rubella syndrome in our community. For vaccination to be effective a high level of MMR vaccine coverage must be maintained in the community.

To assist local people who require vaccination for rubella, a Clinic will be held at Nimbin hospital on Tuesday 6th August 2013 from 10-00am to 12-00 noon. Please call 6688 1401 for an appointment.

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