31 October 2015

With Schoolies’ week just around the corner, NSW Health is urging teenagers to plan ahead and ensure they are adequately vaccinated against infectious diseases, particularly if they are travelling to Bali or Fiji.

NSW Health recommends school leavers visit their GP before travelling overseas to discuss whether they need shots for hepatitis A and measles.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director, Communicable Diseases Branch, NSW Health, said hepatitis A and measles remain common in Asia, with more than 100 cases of unvaccinated travellers developing these infections upon return to Australia each year.

“Schoolies are advised to get their free measles vaccine before they travel – if they haven’t already had two documented doses during their life,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Anyone visiting Bali or other Asian destinations such as Thailand should also be aware of the dangers of being infected with the deadly rabies virus, particularly if planning to visit monkey forests.

“Rabies is almost invariably fatal, so if schoolies do get a bite or scratch while in Bali they should wash the wound thoroughly and seek immediate medical attention,” said Dr Sheppeard.

Rabies can be effectively prevented by a series of injections that need to start as soon as possible after a bite or scratch from a potentially infected animal.

Schoolies should also be aware of the dangers of contracting mosquito-borne infections, including dengue and Ross River virus.

“Make sure you pack an effective insect repellent, and apply it regularly, particularly in the evening. Mosquitoes in Australia and overseas can carry a range of infections, including dengue and Ross River virus. As there’s no treatment for these infections it is best to avoid catching them by preventing mozzie bites,” said Dr Sheppeard.

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