Measles alert for western Sydney

NSW Health is advising people to be alert for signs and symptoms of measles after being notified of one confirmed case of measles who was infectious while visiting some locations in Sydney’s inner west and south-west.

The nine-month-old infant recently returned from Asia where there has been an outbreak of measles in several countries including Pakistan and India.

NSW Health has identified and contacted people who have been in close contact with the infant to arrange preventive treatment if required.

People may also have been exposed when the case visited Five Star Coffee and Nuts on Yerrick Road, Lakemba, on Friday 12 January between 3pm-5pm.

Sydney Local Health District’s Clinical Director of Public Health Dr Leena Gupta said while this location poses no ongoing risk, if you, or someone you know, visited this shop during this time it was important to be on the lookout for symptoms.

“Symptoms to watch out for include fever, sore eyes and a cough, usually followed three or four days later by a red, blotchy rash that spreads from the head to the rest of the body,” Dr Gupta said.

Measles is a vaccine preventable disease that is spread through the air when someone who is infectious coughs or sneezes.

“It can take up to 18 days for symptoms to appear after an exposure, so it’s important for people to stay vigilant if they’ve been exposed, and if they develop symptoms, to please call ahead to your GP or emergency department to ensure you do not spend time in the waiting room with other patients,” Dr Gupta said.

“This should be a reminder for everyone to check that they are protected against measles, which is very infectious.

“Anyone born during or after 1966 needs to ensure they have received two doses of measles vaccine, this is particularly important prior to overseas travel, as measles outbreaks are occurring in several regions of the world at the moment,” Dr Gupta said.

The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and effective protection against measles and is included on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for children at 12 and 18 months of age. It is also free in NSW for anyone born during or after 1966 who hasn’t already had two doses.

Children under the age of 12 months can have their MMR vaccine schedule adjusted to receive their first dose earlier if they are travelling to areas considered high risk for measles following consultation with their GP.

People who are unsure of whether they have had two doses should get a vaccine, as additional doses are safe. This is particularly important prior to travel. MMR vaccine is available from GPs (all ages) and pharmacies (people over 5 years of age).

For more information on measles, view the measles factsheet.

If you, or a loved one, is experiencing measles symptoms, or have questions about measles, please call your GP or Healthdirect on 1800 022 222.