15 January 2014
NSW Health is reminding people travelling to the Philippines in the coming weeks to check they and their children are fully immunised for measles before their departure.  

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director of Communicable Diseases at NSW Health, said measles is highly contagious among people who are not fully immunised. 

“Measles is spread through coughing and sneezing, and is one of the most contagious infections known,” Dr Sheppeard said. 

“Complications can range from an ear infection and diarrhoea to pneumonia or swelling of the brain. 

“In recent weeks there have been 3 travellers from the Philippines to NSW infected with measles. Cases from the Philippines have also been reported in Western Australia.  We believe that population displacement due to Cyclone Yolanda has created the conditions for a measles outbreak in the Philippines.

“NSW Health urges everyone planning on travelling to the Philippines to ensure they’re up to date with their vaccinations before they travel. 

“Children should receive two doses of vaccine, one at 12 months and the second at 18 months, however if babies are travelling before their vaccines are due the first can be given as early as 9 months of age. 

“Children over 18 months who have not had their second dose of measles vaccine can be vaccinated now. Anyone born during or after 1966 should have two doses of vaccine (at least 4 weeks apart), however even only one dose gives around 90% protection.

“People returning from the Philippines should be on the look out for symptoms of measles, which starts with a fever, cough, sore red eyes and a runny nose for several days before a blotchy rash appears. People who have these symptoms should call ahead to the doctor so they don’t wait in the room with other people, and mention to their GP that they could have been exposed to measles in the Philippines.  
 
For more information on measles, please go to www.health.nsw.gov.au.