The Centre of Disease Control has offices in the five major urban centres in the NT and provides clinical services, including screening and contact tracing, for sexual health, blood-borne viruses, tuberculosis, leprosy and other mycobacterial diseases. CDC's role includes policy and clinical guideline development for these diseases.
CDC is responsible for the development and implementation of the Territory's immunisation program, and provides advice and education to health staff and the public on immunisation. Surveillance for more than 90 notifiable diseases and mounting the necessary public health responses, including the management of outbreaks, also forms part of its core business.
Under the guidance of the community paediatrician, the Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) Program provides important support for the diagnosis and long term management of those with RHD. The Trachoma Program is working in partnership with a national program towards the elimination of trachoma. The Safety and Injury Unit researches and develops policy on injury prevention and Medical Entomology undertakes mosquito surveillance and environmental management of disease-carrying and other nuisance insects.
Measles outbreak 2014
The measles outbreak that started in mid-January and ended in mid-March resulted in 48 measles cases in the NT.
Another two measles cases acquired in Bali were notified in June.
The Centre of Disease Control (CDC) encourages Territorians to be alert for the symptoms of measles especially when returning from overseas.
The outbreak highlighted that a substantial number of people in the community are not measles immune and are at risk at getting measles. If you have not had 2 measles containing immunisations (usually provided as MMR-see below) now is the time to get immunised.
Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, red itchy eyes and a runny nose and start 7 to 10 days after contact but can take up to 18 days to occur. These are followed 2 to 4 days later by a red blotchy rash starting on the face and then becoming generalised.
The Centre for Disease Control urges those who believe they have symptoms suggestive of measles to avoid going into public areas and if attending medical services to phone ahead to arrange appropriate infection control measures on arrival.
Up to one third of people infected with measles will experience a complication. Complications are more common in young children and adults with weak immune systems or those with chronic diseases. Complications can include ear infections, diarrhoea, pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and often require hospitalisation. There is no specific treatment for measles and that is why it is so important to prevent it.
Once measles is introduced into a community it has the potential to spread through those who are not immune and may be passed on over several transmission cycles. We therefore ask that the community check their immune status now and get immunised if required.
To be immune to measles you need to have had measles previously or have had two doses four weeks apart of the measles-containing vaccine, known as the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The two dose vaccine schedule is given as part of the routine national vaccination schedule starting at 12 months. However, those born between 1966 and 1996 need to check whether they have had their 2nd vaccine, because they would have only received one dose routinely as children.
People who are undertaking any international travel should particularly make sure they are measles immune. Of note, smartraveller reports a measles outbreak in the Philippines and Vietnam.
More information about measles is available online at:
CDC contact details:
Business hours: (08) 8922 8044
After hours: (08) 8922 8888 and ask for the on-call CDC doctor.