Passengers on an international flight and at the Sydney International Airport are advised to be alert for symptoms of measles, after a man was diagnosed with the infection after returning from the Middle East.
The unvaccinated man, the third returned traveller diagnosed with the infection in two days was infectious while on Etihad Airways flight EY 450 from Abu Dhabi, arriving at Sydney International Airport at 06:30am on Saturday 17 August, 2019.
NSW Health’s Director of Communicable Diseases, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said people on this flight and at the Sydney International Airport, including baggage carousels, customs and the arrivals area in the early hours of Saturday morning should be alert for signs and symptoms of measles until 4 September 2019.
“It can take up to 18 days for symptoms to appear following exposure to a person with measles,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“Symptoms to watch out for include fever, sore eyes and a cough followed three or four days later by a red, blotchy rash that spreads from the head to the rest of the body.
“Anyone who develops symptoms of measles should phone their GP to ensure they don’t wait alongside other patients before seeing their doctor.”
Dr Sheppeard said this and the other two cases this week demonstrate the importance of adults up to 53 years of age checking their vaccination history before travelling overseas, as they may not have been fully vaccinated as a child.
“Measles cases worldwide have dramatically increased in 2019, and many countries are experiencing large and ongoing outbreaks. This means that all travellers are at risk of measles if they are unvaccinated, not just those travelling to the usual hotspots,” said Dr Sheppeard.
“Two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine provides lifelong protection in 99 out of 100 people who are vaccinated.
“If you are unsure whether you have had two doses of measles vaccine, it is safe to have another.”
NSW Health provides free measles vaccine for anyone born during or after 1966 who hasn’t already had two doses.
Measles is highly contagious and spread in the air through coughing or sneezing by anyone who is infectious with the disease.
While the risk of infection is low in fully-vaccinated people, health experts urge anyone who comes into contact with someone who has measles to be alert for symptoms.
If symptoms develop they should limit their exposure to others and seek medical care.
Protecting children from potentially deadly diseases is a key priority for the NSW Government, which has invested approximately $130 million in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.
The latest Annual Immunisation Coverage Report shows vaccination rates in NSW are at their highest level ever, with more than 95% of five year olds vaccinated against measles.
“Anyone planning a trip overseas should seek medical advice at least two weeks before departure on the vaccinations required to protect them against the risk of disease,” Dr Sheppeard said.
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