NSW Health warns of measles risk

measles alert
Anyone who was in any of the locations listed below should watch for symptoms.

NSW Health is asking people to watch for measles symptoms after being notified today that an infant travelling from overseas has been diagnosed with the infection.

The infant was not vaccinated and developed measles shortly after arriving in Sydney from South East Asia. The child is stable and has not required hospital admission.

The infant was in the following locations and on public transport while infectious:

  • Bus on Friday 17 August to and from Marayong and Blacktown station
  • Train on Friday 17 August to and from Blacktown and Circular Quay station
  • Ferry on Friday 17 August to and from Circular Quay and Taronga Zoo wharf
  • Circular Quay, Opera House. Botanical Gardens, Darling Harbour and Chinatown on Friday 17 August
  • Siesta Villa East Jindabyne, Jindabyne and Perisher on Saturday 18 August
  • Shuttle bus to and from Perisher car park and snow fields on Saturday 18 August
  • Perisher Centre food court on Saturday 18 August
  • Perisher Centre medical aid unit on Saturday 18 August
  • Papparich and Coles in Canberra Centre on Sunday 19 August
  • Lindt Chocolate Factory in Marsden Park on Sunday 19 August.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director Communicable Diseases NSW Health, said anyone who was in these locations should watch for symptoms.

“The time from exposure to the disease to the onset of symptoms is typically about 10 days but can be as long as 18 days so people should be alert to symptoms until 6 September,” Dr Sheppeard said.

Measles symptoms include fever, sore eyes and a cough followed three or four days later by a red, blotchy rash spreading from the head and neck to the rest of the body.

Dr Sheppeard said infants under 12 months of age who are too young to be vaccinated and young adults are most likely to be susceptible to measles.

“People in the 20-40 year age bracket may have missed out on the full vaccination program for measles – as it was changed in 1998 to include a national school based catch up – and mistakenly believe they are protected against the disease.

“The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and highly effective protection against measles, and is available for free for those aged one to 52 from your GP.  If you are unsure whether you have had two doses, it is quite safe to have another dose.”

Protecting children from potentially deadly diseases is a key priority for the NSW Government, which has invested approximately $120 million in the 2018-19 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.

The latest Annual Immunisation Coverage Report shows vaccination rates in NSW are at their highest level ever, with more than 94 per cent of five year olds vaccinated against measles.

NSW children at one and five years of age have some of the highest measles vaccine uptake in Australia, boosted by programs including the:

·         Save the Date app campaign ($5.5 million invested since 2013)

·         Aboriginal Immunisation Health Worker program ($1.3 million annually)

·         New NSW Government laws that came in on 1 January preventing parents who object to vaccination from enrolling their children in preschools and early childhood centres.

Measles is highly contagious and is spread in the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwell with the disease.

Dr Sheppeard said it was important for people to see the GP if they have symptoms, and limit exposure to others until the GP has made a diagnosis.

Our public health units are contacting people known to have been in contact with this latest case to offer preventive injections, where appropriate,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Vaccination is your best protection against this extremely contagious disease.”

For more information on measles, visit: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/Measles_Factsheet.aspx.