11 October 2013
NSW Health is again warning the public to be alert to the symptoms of measles after another three cases were confirmed to have been in the community while infectious with measles in the last couple of weeks.

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

“Measles is highly infectious and is spread through coughing and sneezing,” Dr Sheppeard said. “Symptoms can include fever, tiredness, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes which usually last for several days before a red, blotchy rash appears.

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

Dr Sheppeard advised that two young adults (aged 20 - 35 years) have spent time in pubs, restaurants and cinemas in Surry Hills and Newtown while infectious during the past week. They have also been in Rhodes, Rozelle and the City (CBD), and have visited local medical centres in Balmain and the City, as well as Sydney Hospital, while infectious.

The third measles case is a teenager who likely acquired their infection in Bali, and has since visited Dreamworld and presented to the Byron Bay Hospital while infectious.

The time from exposure to the onset of symptoms is typically around 10 days but can be as long as 18 days, so there may be other cases in the community now or people who will be developing symptoms over the next few weeks.

Dr Sheppeard advised parents of infants or other people who aren’t fully vaccinated against measles to be on the lookout for symptoms of measles.

“If symptoms develop please phone ahead when seeking medical attention to ensure you don’t share the waiting area with other patients,” Dr Sheppeard said. “Measles is now a rare disease but it is important to emphasise it has recently been identified in Sydney and on the North Coast, and that people who have not had two doses of vaccine may be at risk.”

“We encourage anyone who has not previously been vaccinated to do so. Children should receive two doses of vaccine, one at 12 months and the second at 18 months. Children over 18 months who have not had their second dose of measles vaccine can be vaccinated now. Anyone born after 1965 should have two doses of vaccine (at least 4 weeks apart).”

“If you haven’t already been immunised, NSW Health offers free MMR (Measles Mumps and Rubella) vaccine through GPs for people born after 1965.”

For a range of health information, go online to www.health.nsw.gov.au