Australia: an island in a sea of measles

Kirsten M Williamson, Tony Merritt and David N Durrheim
Med J Aust 2020; 213 (3): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50650
Published online: 15 June 2020

Combatting the resurgence of measles requires vigilant clinicians and sustained, high level vaccination coverage

At the beginning of 2020, Samoa was in a state of emergency due to a measles outbreak. It resulted in over 5700 cases and over 80 deaths, the majority being in children under 5 years of age.1 There were concurrent outbreaks regionally, in New Zealand, Tonga, American Samoa and Fiji. Globally, there has been a massive resurgence of measles with over 360 000 cases reported to the World Health Organization between 1 January and 31 July 2019 — almost three times the number reported over the same period for 2018. We have also seen the re‐establishment of endemic measles in some countries, such as the United Kingdom, where it was previously eliminated.2

  • Kirsten M Williamson1,2
  • Tony Merritt1
  • David N Durrheim1,3

  • 1 Hunter New England Local Health District, Newcastle, NSW
  • 2 Australian National University, Canberra, ACT
  • 3 University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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