23 January 2015

NSW Health is warning the public to be alert to the symptoms of measles after a person infectious with the virus visited several busy parts of Sydney.

Dr Christine Selvey, Medical Epidemiologist, Communicable Diseases Branch at NSW Health says a young adult who recently returned from India, spent time at the Macquarie Centre, Moore Park, Meadowbank and Westmead Hospital while infectious during the past week.

“The time from exposure to the onset of symptoms is typically around 10 days but it can be as long as 18 days, so people who were exposed could have symptoms already or develop them over the next week,” Dr Selvey said.

“Measles is highly infectious and contagious for people who are not fully immunised. It is easily spread through coughing and sneezing.

“Symptoms can include fever, tiredness, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes which usually last for several days before a red, blotchy rash appears,” she said.

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

Dr Selvey advised parents of infants or other people who aren’t fully vaccinated against measles who have visited the same Sydney locations as the affected individual, to be on the lookout for symptoms.

“If symptoms develop please phone ahead when seeking medical attention to ensure you don’t share the waiting area with other patients,” she said.

“Measles is now a rare disease but it is important to emphasise that with people returning from holidays from parts of the world where measles is still common, we can expect to see more cases in NSW and 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 before they travel. Children should receive two doses of vaccine, one at 12 months and the second at 18 months. 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.”