16 December 2016

NSW Health is urging people to watch for symptoms of measles after another two adults contracted the highly contagious disease in Sydney following a case reported earlier this month.

The three cases reported in Sydney since early December have spent considerable time in the Sydney metropolitan area while infectious.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director Communicable Diseases NSW Health, said the recent cases highlighted the importance of getting vaccinated to protect against the disease.

“A highly effective measles vaccine has been freely available for many years and it is vital for everyone, including adults and children, to have two doses of the measles vaccine during their life time,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Those people who have not received two doses of measles vaccine should be alert to the symptoms of measles in the coming days and weeks as the three known measles cases have moved extensively in many parts of Sydney.

“The measles virus is highly contagious and is spread through the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwell with the disease.”

The three cases have visited multiple locations between 26 November and 15 December while infectious including:

  • inner city hospital emergency departments
  • GP clinics and medical centres in George Street, Sydney, Darlinghurst, Leichardt, Camperdown and Bondi
  • restaurants and shops in the CBD, Ultimo, Bondi, Bondi Junction, Leichhardt, Double Bay, Chatswood, and Marrickville
  • public transport on routes in the centre, north and east of the city.

Dr Sheppeard said while these are the known locations the three cases visited while infectious, the area of risk could potentially be far broader.

Symptoms of measles 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 as soon as possible,” 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.”

Anyone born during or since 1966 should have two doses of vaccine (at least four weeks apart). For young children, the measles vaccine is recommended at 12 months and again at 18 months of age. NSW Health offers free MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine through GPs for people born during or since 1966 with no records of having received two doses of MMR vaccine.

Dr Sheppeard said the first adult measles case reported this month had acquired the infection outside of Australia.

“It’s important that people planning to travel overseas are fully vaccinated against measles before departure to reduce their risk of contracting measles and then bringing the disease back to Australia and putting others at risk.”

For more information visit Measles.