16 January 2020

NSW Health is urging people to ensure they are fully protected against measles, following two more locally acquired cases bringing the NSW total since Christmas to nine.

Both new cases occurred in adults aged between 20-55 years and both were acquired in Sydney.

Dr Christine Selvey, NSW Health Acting Director of Communicable Diseases, said these cases show why it is important for anyone born after 1965 to make sure they have had two measles shots.

“We know many adults in this age group have only had one dose of measles vaccine. Anyone unsure of their vaccination history should see their GP for another dose, which is free of charge.

“Most people with measles in Australia picked up their infection during overseas travel. However the number of recent cases in and around Sydney means people may have been exposed locally and could be developing symptoms now or over the coming days and weeks,” Dr Selvey said.

Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose and sore red eyes, followed 3 to 4 days later by a red spotty rash which starts on the head and spreads to the rest of the body.

“Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention, and should call their doctor or emergency department before attending so that spread of measles to others in the waiting room can be prevented,” Dr Selvey said.

People in the following location during the listed time should be particularly alert for signs and symptoms of measles until 31 January, as it can take up to 18 days for symptoms to develop.

Monday 13 January: Chargrill Charlie’s, 178 Lyons Rd Drummoyne, between 6:30pm and 8:00pm

The location poses no ongoing threat.

Unvaccinated people who attended the location on the same day and at the same time as this case should contact their local public health unit on 1300 066 055 for advice.

A preventive treatment (immunoglobulin) can be given to unvaccinated people at higher risk of measles complications up to six days after exposure.

People at high risk of measles complications include:

  • children from birth to 11 months (who are too young for routine measles vaccination)
  • pregnant women who haven’t had measles vaccination
  • people with a weakened immune system due to illness or treatment.

Measles is a highly infectious, 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 Selvey said.

“If you’re unsure whether you’ve been vaccinated against measles in the past, it’s safe to have another dose.”

NSW Health makes the measles vaccine available free anyone born during or after 1966 who doesn’t have two documented doses of measles vaccine.

The NSW Government is investing $130 million in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.

For more information visit Measles.