NSW Health is urging NSW residents to be fully vaccinated against measles before travelling to New Zealand where almost 1000 cases have been reported this year.
So far in 2019, four measles cases have been introduced to NSW from New Zealand travellers, and that number could rapidly increase due to a recent surge of cases in New Zealand since early August.
“This highly contagious disease presents a risk not only to travellers and their families, but also to the wider NSW community if people return from their travels infectious with measles,” Dr Sheppeard said.
Dr Sheppeard said anyone travelling to New Zealand should ensure they are fully vaccinated against measles before departure. Infants aged six months or older should also receive a dose of measles vaccine before leaving Australia.
In the past two weeks people travelling between New Zealand and NSW may have exposed others to the infection in the following locations:
- Friday 23 August – Air New Zealand flight NZ711 from Auckland to Sydney International Airport Terminal (T1) arriving around 9.10pm.
- Sunday 25 August – Air New Zealand flight NZ108 from Sydney International Airport Terminal (T1) to Auckland, departing at around 7.50pm.
- Friday 30 August to Wednesday 3 September – various locations in Byron Bay area.
Measles introduced by travellers has resulted in secondary cases in recent days in:
- Penrith and Hazelbrook
- Wallsend, Glendale, Kotara and other locations in the Hunter.
NSW Health Director Communicable Diseases, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said people who have been in the same known locations as those with measles should be alert to symptoms.
“It can take up to 18 days for symptoms to appear following exposure to a person with measles. Anyone who develops symptoms should arrange to see their GP and call ahead to ensure they don’t wait alongside other patients,” 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.”
Local public health units are following up with people who may have been in contact with the four measles cases, and are issuing media releases about specific venues where community members may have been exposed.
Full details of exposure sites and times have been published on the NSW Health website, health.nsw.gov.au
Measles is a vaccine preventable disease that is spread through the air when someone who is infectious with the disease coughs or sneezes.
“Measles is one of the most contagious diseases for humans but two doses of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine provide lifelong protection against measles in 99 out of 100 vaccinated people,” Dr Sheppeard said.
NSW Health makes the measles vaccine available free for infants from six months of age, and anyone born during or after 1966 who doesn’t have two documented doses of measles vaccine.
“If you’re unsure whether you’ve been vaccinated against measles in the past, it’s safe to have a dose.”
The NSW Government is investing $130 million in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.
For more information visit health.nsw.gov.au/measles.