Up to 4500 people at risk in Queensland measles outbreak

Che Chapman

PARAMEDICS could be forced to have vaccinations for preventable diseases like measles in the wake of one of Queensland' biggest public health scares.

The floated employment condition, raised in Queensland Parliament on Wednesday, could extend to all health workers.

A 32-year-old paramedic, who did not know he had measles, is in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

Up to 4500 people could be at risk through contacts he had this month.

The man was working on Moreton Island between May 14 and May 18 and had taken patients to four of Queensland's largest public hospitals this month.

Health Minister Cameron Dick told parliament there were no employment conditions for ambulance officers to be fully immunised against preventable diseases like measles.

"I have this morning asked my department to examine the feasibility of having all ambulance officers in the Queensland Ambulance Service vaccinated against measles," he said.

"At the moment a great deal of officers have been vaccinated, but I would like to look at the possibility of having all officers vaccinated.

"I have also asked the department to examine the prospect of a wider vaccination program among health workers."

Australian Paramedics Association Queensland president Prebs Sathiaseelan said he would need to consult with the membership to find out how they felt about compulsory vaccinations.

"My personal view is that most of us are in the medical profession so most of us are in favour of immunisation," he said.

"But there are individuals who might feel differently and they should be given a choice."

Queensland Health officers are trying to track down anyone who came into contact with the paramedic and where he became infected.

Mr Dick said officers had already made contact with dozens of patients.

"While this is a potentially serious situation, it is important to remain calm," he said.

"This is only the eighth case of measles reported in Queensland so far this year. I have been advised that so far today, there have not been any further cases reported."

"There has been an average of 33 cases per year of measles over the last five years.

"Just four people were reported with measles in 2012.

"But that was followed by one of the biggest outbreaks in recent times in 2013, where 37 cases were traced back to an international traveller."

Topics:  editors picks health measles vaccination

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