NSW Health has issued a new alert for residents of Sydney after a traveller who recently returned from the Philippines was diagnosed with measles.
The Sydney resident, who is aged in his 30s with an unknown vaccination status, developed measles a few days after returning home. He required hospitalisation for his symptoms but is no longer infectious and recovering at home. However, while infectious he spent time in a number of places, the details of which are provided in the table below.
People in the same locations at the same time as the man should be alert for signs and symptoms of measles until 29 March as it can take up to 18 days for symptoms to develop after being exposed to a person who is infectious with measles.
Measles is a highly infectious, serious, viral illness, which while rare in Australia, remains common in may parts of the world. The Philippines is currently experiencing large outbreaks in a number of regions, posing significant risk to unprotected travellers.
Measles is a serious, highly infectious viral illness which is spread through the air when an infectious person coughs, sneezes, or breathes. The measles virus can remain in the air for short periods of time, so simply being in the same room as a person with measles can result in infection if you are not immune.
Vaccination with two doses of measles containing vaccine provides the best protection against measles. The vaccine is safe and highly effective, with 99% of people who receive two doses developing lifelong immunity. In Australia two doses of vaccine are offered to children at 12 months of age (as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine) and 18 months of age (as measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccine) under the National Immunisation Program. Anyone in NSW born during or after 1966 who does not have evidence of measles immunity, can access free MMR from general practitioners.
Redfern and Sydney Hospital
|Saturday 9 March 2019
||Redfern Station Medical Centre and Redfern Discount Drug Store between 10:15am and 11:15am|
|Monday 11 March 2019
||Sydney Hospital, including the Eye Clinic and Emergency Department between 10:30am and 11:15am|
Measles generally begins with a fever, cough, runny nose and/or sore, red eyes, followed a few days later by a red, spotty, non-itchy rash which starts on the face and spreads to the body and limbs. People with measles may also experience diarrhoea and this is more common in small children.
People who are experiencing signs and symptoms of measles should seek medical attention. NSW Health recommends calling ahead to the practice or emergency department to alert of them of your symptoms so that measures can be taken to limit your exposure to others upon your arrival.
Measles is a serious illness, and complications such as diarrhoea, middle ear infection and pneumonia occur in up to one third of cases. Measles encephalitis is swelling of the brain caused by the measles virus and occurs in up to one in 1000 cases. A fatal condition known as sub-acute sclerosing pan encephalitis occurs in 1 in 10000 cases and is a progressive neurological disorder which presents years after measles infection.
People are at risk of measles if they are exposed to an infectious case and have never had measles or have not received two doses of measles containing vaccine. Two doses of measles containing vaccine provide lifelong protection against infection in 99 per cent of vaccinated people. People born before 1966 are assumed to be immune to measles.
NSW Health encourages all people 12 months of age or older, and born during or after 1966 make sure they have received two doses of measles vaccine. For people who are unsure of whether they have previously received two doses, it is safe to receive more than two.
Travellers are encouraged to discuss their travel plans with their GP to ensure that they are protected against preventable diseases such as measles prior to travel. People travelling with children between the ages of 9 months and 18 months of age should discuss travel plans with their doctor, as the vaccination schedule can be adjusted for children travelling to high risk areas for measles.