06 April 2016

NSW Health is warning the public to be alert to the symptoms of measles after four people were reported to have been in the community while infectious with the highly contagious disease in the past two weeks.

Two cases were travellers who spent time in hostels in Cairns and Magnetic Island whilst infectious. Both cases were also infectious while on flights from Cairns to Sydney: Virgin Airlines 28 March departing 5:10 am and Tiger Airlines on 29 March. One person also spent time in Royal North Shore Hospital Emergency Department on the evening of 29 March.

The other two cases were young children who most likely acquired measles in India, and were possibly infectious on flight AI302 from Delhi arriving in Sydney on March 30. The children visited a medical centre in Blacktown and Mt Druitt Hospital while infectious on 2 April.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director, Communicable Diseases Branch, NSW Health, said people who had not received two doses of measles vaccine who may have been in contact with these cases should be alert to the symptoms of measles in the coming days and weeks.

Measles is very infectious. Symptoms include fever, sore eyes and a cough followed three or four days later by a red, blotchy rash spreading from the head and neck to the rest of the body. Measles can have serious complications, particularly for young children.

Children or adults born during or since 1966 who do not have documented evidence of receiving two doses of measles vaccine, or evidence of previous measles infection, are likely to be susceptible to measles and should be vaccinated.

“The measles virus is highly contagious and is spread through the air by someone who is unwell with the disease,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“If you develop the symptoms of measles, seek medical advice. Please call ahead to your doctor or emergency department so that arrangements can be made to keep you away from others to minimise the risk of infection.

“Measles is highly contagious and is spread through coughing and sneezing. For young children, the measles vaccine is recommended at 12 months and again at 18 months of age. Two doses of the vaccine are required for lifelong protection,” Dr Sheppeard said.

Anyone born after 1965 should have two doses of vaccine (at least four weeks apart). NSW Health offers free MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine through GPs for people born after 1965 with no records of having received two doses of MMR vaccine. People who travel overseas should ensure that they are fully vaccinated against measles.

For more information visit Measles.