Diagnosing Measles

Diagnosing Measles

Key Points

  • The Department of Health requires suspected cases of measles to be notified immediately without waiting for laboratory confirmation
  • Measles is an urgent, highly contagious, notifiable disease. Secondary infections occur in 75-90% of susceptible household contacts
  • Transmission of the measles virus is by respiratory droplets and direct contact with respiratory secretions
  • Serological testing and PCR are the mainstays of laboratory diagnosis

Background

Measles is a highly contagious disease with secondary infections occurring in 75 – 90% of susceptible household contacts.1

With suboptimal vaccination coverage in some areas, measles outbreaks remain an unfortunate reality in Australia.2

A single case therefore has significant public health implications.

Clinical features

Transmission of measles virus is by respiratory droplets and direct contact with respiratory secretions. The virus can also survive on inanimate objects in the patient’s environment for at least 30 minutes.

After an incubation period of 10 days (range 7 – 18 days) patients develop a prodrome consisting of fever, malaise, cough, coryza and non-purulent conjunctivitis.

Koplik’s spots ...

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