//Measles outbreak linked to Amma faithful

Measles outbreak linked to Amma faithful

May 5, 2006 – 12:10PM

Mata AmritanandamayiFollowers of a world-renowned Hindu spiritual leader famous for her "divine hugs" have been blamed for a measles epidemic across Australia. A near quadrupling in the number of measles cases has been linked by health authorities to the thousands of Australians who flocked to see Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, known as Amma, on her national tour last month.

 The official number of cases has soared to 42, compared to a total of 11 last year. Thirty-one are children aged between one and 13, none of whom were immunised.
A federal Health Department spokeswoman said all of the 42 infected people were either linked to Amma's public meetings or flights on which her followers travelled.

"It's people who attended the spiritual sessions throughout Australia (that) seem to be the ones who got this," the spokeswoman said.

"Who started it is a moot point. It could have been one infected person who went to one of the meetings.

"There's no indication that Amma or any of her people brought it in from overseas.

"And Amma herself absolutely didn't have measles."

Thousands turned up to see Amma during her Australian tour, which ran between March 31 and April 16 and included stops in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Amma's website hails the Australian tour as a success, but also warns that five children who saw her in Perth now have the highly contagious disease.

"As a precaution we have been asked by the department of health to make their measles information sheet available on our website," the Amma site says.

According to official figures, 20 of the people struck down by the disease were from NSW.

Another two people who fell ill in NSW live in Tasmania and Queensland.

Western Australia has also reported 14 cases, Victoria three, South Australia two and the ACT one.

Amma, who lives in India and has received awards from the United Nations, is famous around the world as a spiritual leader and for her humanitarian work.

According to her website, Amma spreads compassion largely by hugging followers, more than 23 million at last count.

NSW Health epidemiologist Vicky Sheppeard said measles was highly contagious and more common overseas than in Australia.

"It (measles) still circulates in big numbers overseas," she said.

"We know there's a big outbreak in Germany at the moment with thousands of cases."

Dr Sheppeard said it was vital people checked their vaccination records to see if they were fully immunised against measles.

Many people born between 1996 and the late 1980s might only have received one dose instead of two of the measles vaccine, leaving them possibly at risk of contracting the disease, she said.

Symptoms including fever, tiredness, runny nose, cough and sore eyes usually begin to show about 10 days after a person is exposed to someone with measles.

A red, blotchy rash then appears on a sufferer's face about three days later before spreading to the rest of their body.

© 2006 AAP

http://www.theage.com.au/news/National/Measles-outbreak-linked-to-Amma-faithful/2006/05/05/1146335903781.html

 

National alert issued about measles

This press release issued by the Communicable Diseases Network Australia today, warns of the discovery of several cases of measles linked to the Australian tour by the Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi group.

Media release, 21 April 2006

The Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) today issued a warning about measles following the discovery of seven cases of the disease in Western Australia over Easter that are linked to a national spiritual tour.

Six of the cases of measles are in unimmunised children, aged between two and 10 years, who attended or interacted with those attending workshops held by the Amma (Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) group in Fremantle at the end of March. The seventh case is in an unimmunised adult.

The Amma Australian tour also included meetings and retreats in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Some of these gatherings attracted crowds of up to 1000 people. The tour group departed Australia for Singapore on 17 April.

CDNA Deputy Chair, Dr Vicki Krause, said anyone aged under 45 years who attended the Amma meetings and events and who has not previously received two doses of measles vaccine should contact their medical practitioner to arrange urgent MMR or measles vaccination.

'It appears the measles virus in the Western Australian cases was introduced by overseas visitors with measles attending the Amma tour gatherings. The disease has spread to local families with unimmunised children and adults involved with the tour group,' Dr Krause said.

'Because of high local immunisation rates in recent years, measles is now a rare disease in Australia. Measles is however a severe and highly infectious disease so it is vitally important that anyone not immune to measles who has been potentially exposed be vaccinated as soon a possible.

'The vaccine is available free from general practitioners and immunisation providers. It is important to note that homeopathic remedies do not provide protection against measles.

'Anybody who has had contact with the Amma group and develops measles-like symptoms should seek urgent medical care.

'It is important that if symptoms do occur to phone the doctor or hospital in advance so arrangements can be made to prevent spreading measles to other patients.

Dr Krause said State Public Health Units in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland were working closely with the Amma organisation to identify people who attended the national tour.

'Australian doctors also need to be aware of this situation and any measles cases that may develop should be urgently notified to the relevant State or Territory Health Department or Public Health Unit so that further spread of the disease is minimised,' she said.

The incubation period for measles is around 10 days.

Early symptoms of measles include a cough, runny nose, high fever, conjunctivitis or a red blotchy rash that may appear three days later starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body. Measles can be a severe disease, particularly in adults and very young children.

The CDNA has prepared a fact sheet about this measles outbreak. The fact sheet is available at: www.health.gov.au/cdna

Media inquiries: Kay McNiece, CDNA, 0412 132 585

Page currency, Latest update: 21 April, 2006

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/wcms/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-cdna-pr-measles.htm

More about Measles

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/wcms/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-cdna-measles-fs.htm 

Spiritual tour leaves measles behind

From: AAP, April 21, 2006

SEVEN cases of measles linked to a spiritual tour by overseas visitors have sparked a warning about infection from the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA).
People who had contact with the Amma (Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) group during its recent national tour are being urged to seek medical help if they develop measles-like symptoms.

CDNA deputy chair Vicki Krause warned that anyone aged under 45 years who attended the Amma meetings and events, and who has not previously received two doses of measles va
ccine, should arrange urgent MMR or measles vaccination.

Her call comes after six children aged between two and 10 years, and one adult, in Western Australia caught the potentially severe virus after attending spiritual workshops in Fremantle at the end of March.

"It appears the measles virus in the Western Australian cases was introduced by overseas visitors with measles attending the Amma tour gatherings," Dr Krause said.

"The disease has spread to local families with unimmunised children and adults involved with the tour group."

The Amma tour, which left Australia for Singapore last week, also included meetings and retreats – of up to 1,000 people – in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

State Public Health Units in WA, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland were working with the Amma organisation to identify people who attended the national tour.

"Australian doctors also need to be aware of this situation and any measles cases that may develop should be urgently notified to the relevant state or territory health department or Public Health Unit so that further spread of the disease is minimised," she said.

The incubation period for measles is about 10 days.

Early symptoms of measles include a cough, runny nose, high fever, conjunctivitis or a red blotchy rash that may appear three days later starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body.

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,18884177-29277,00.html

Spiritual visits ‘spread illness’

FOLLOWERS of a world-renowned Hindu spiritual leader famous for her “divine hugs” have been blamed for a measles epidemic across Australia.

A near quadrupling in the number of measles cases has been linked by health authorities to the thousands of Australians who flocked to see Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, known as Amma, on her national tour last month.

The official number of cases has soared to 42, compared to a total of 11 last year.

Thirty-one are children aged between one and 13, none of whom were immunised.

A federal Health Department spokeswoman said all of the 42 infected people were either linked to Amma’s public meetings or flights on which her followers travelled.

“It’s people who attended the spiritual sessions throughout Australia (that) seem to be the ones who got this,” the spokeswoman said.

“Who started it is a moot point. It could have been one infected person who went to one of the meetings.

“There’s no indication that Amma or any of her people brought it in from overseas.

“And Amma herself absolutely didn’t have measles.”

Thousands turned up to see Amma during her Australian tour, which ran between March 31 and April 16 and included stops in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Amma’s website hails the Australian tour as a success, but also warns that five children who saw her in Perth now have the highly contagious disease.

“As a precaution we have been asked by the department of health to make their measles information sheet available on our website,” the Amma site says.

According to official figures, 20 of the people struck down by the disease were from NSW.

http://www.bordermail.com.au/news/bm/national/211210.html

Spiritual group linked to measles outbreak

Health officials say they have linked a measles outbreak in Sydney to a spiritual group travelling around Australia.

Parents are being urged to check their children's vaccination records after 38 cases of the infectious disease were detected in the past two months.

New South Wales Health spokeswoman Dr Vicky Shepherd says almost 50 cases in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, New South Wales and Queensland have been linked to the group's tour.

"Some people from that tour have come from Germany, where there's a lot of measles circulating," she said.

"So the big increase that we've had in the past two weeks in measles are people who've attended that meeting or have since mixed with people who've attended the meeting."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200605/s1631321.htm

Australian measles outbreak linked to Indian religious tour

Time is GMT + 8 hours Posted: 6-May-2006 01:07 hrs
         
Australian health officials said that an outbreak of measles across the country had been linked to a national tour by a visiting Indian Hindu leader whose events were attended by thousands of people.

The New South Wales Health Department said that 42 cases of measles had been reported in the state since mid-March — compared with only five cases for the previous year.

Epidemiologist Vicky Sheppeard said 23 of the cases involved people who went to see Hindu leader Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) on her March 31 to April 16 national tour.

"Thousands of people attended Amma's public meetings," Dr. Sheppeard said.
"They (Amma's tour group) had people who were sick (with measles) travelling with them. They had come in from overseas and joined the tour group and became sick as they travelled around.

"We have had 23 of our cases linked to the meetings of the group."

Measles is an infectious viral illness characterised by a red rash and can cause serious disease including ear infections and pneumonia. — AFP

http://www.todayonline.com/articles/116703.asp

Measles outbreak linked to 'divine hugs'

CANBERRA, Australia, May 5 (UPI) — A measles outbreak in Australia has been linked to a Hindu spiritual leader, famous for her "divine hugs," who toured the country last month.

A Health Department official said that all 42 reported cases of measles had been linked to public meetings held by Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, known as Amma, or to flights on which her followers had traveled, The Australian reported Friday.

Thirty-one of the victims were children aged between 1 and 13, none of whom had been immunized, the report said. Last year only 11 cases of measles were reported in the country.

"Who started it is a moot point," a Health Department spokeswoman said. "It could have been one infected person who went to one of the meetings." She said Amma herself did not have measles.

Thousands of people saw Amma during her stops in five Australian cities between March 31 and April 16.

The spiritual leader lives in India and is famous for her humanitarian work. She reportedly has spread compassion by hugging more than 23 million people.

http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20060505-051140-1562r

Measles Outbreak Linked to 'Divine Hugs'

United Press International

CANBERRA, Australia, May 5, 2006 (UPI via COMTEX) — A measles outbreak in Australia has been linked to a Hindu spiritual leader, famous for her "divine hugs," who toured the country last month.

A Health Department official said that all 42 reported cases of measles had been linked to public meetings held by Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, known as Amma, or to flights on which her followers had traveled, The Australian reported Friday.

Thirty-one of the victims were children aged between 1 and 13, none of whom had been immunized, the report said. Last year only 11 cases of measles were reported in the country.

"Who started it is a moot point," a Health Department spokeswoman said. "It could have been one infected person who went to one of the meetings." S
he said Amma herself did not have measles.

Thousands of people saw Amma during her stops in five Australian cities between March 31 and April 16.

The spiritual leader lives in India and is famous for her humanitarian work. She reportedly has spread compassion by hugging more than 23 million people.

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/190/story_19079_1.html

 
Amma Tour Details

 Australia

March 31 eve – Perth
April 1 & 2 – Perth
April 4 & 5 – Melbourne
April 6, 7, 8 – Kyneton Retreat
April 10 & 11 – Sydney
April 13 – Brisbane
April 14, 15, 16 – Gold Coast Retreat

Singapore

18th evening
19th and 20th

Malaysia

22nd and 23rd evening

 http://www.amritapuri.org/yatra/index.php