Measles cases double in past year

AUSTRALIA has experienced almost double the number of measles cases this year compared to last year, hampering plans to eliminate the disease.

Dr Robert Menzies, deputy director (surveillance) at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Sydney, said the outbreaks were due to poor vaccination coverage among young adults, a cohort with a high rate of overseas travel, and pockets of low coverage in some communities.

Between January and September this year 136 measles cases were notified in Australia, compared to 70 cases in 2010.

Some 61% of cases (82 individuals) were unvaccinated, including nine children aged younger than 12 months.

“Lots of countries overseas have [outbreaks] and it is setting back our plans to eliminate measles,” Dr Menzies said.

“We’re aiming to eliminate it in the western Pacific by next year, but those plans are not going to come to fruition.”