NSW Health is asking anyone recently in parts of Bankstown and Sydney CBD to be alert to the symptoms of measles after an infant who contracted the disease while overseas visited the areas.
The infant was too young to be vaccinated and developed measles after returning from a trip to south Asia. The infant is now isolated and recovering at home.
The infant visited the following locations while infectious:
- The train from Bankstown Station to St James Station on Friday 16 March, 2018 between 08:00am and 09:30am and returned from St James Station to Bankstown Station between 1:30pm and 3:30pm.
- The Wesley Conference Centre, 220 Pitt St Sydney on Friday 16 March, 2018 from 9:00am until 1:00pm.
- Rickard Road Medical Centre, 41 Rickard Road, Bankstown on Saturday 17 March between 5:00pm and 7:30pm.
- Rickard Road Chemist 41 Rickard Road, Bankstown on Saturday 17 March, 2018 between 6:45pm and 7:30pm.
- Bankstown Emergency Department on Wednesday 21 March, from 10:00am to Thursday 22nd March 1:00am.
The time from exposure to the onset of symptoms is typically about 10 days but can be as long as 18 days so people should remain alert for symptoms until 9 April 2018.
Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director Communicable Diseases, NSW Health, said those most likely to be susceptible to measles are infants under 12 months of age who are too young to be vaccinated and young adults.
“People in the 20-40 year age bracket may have missed out on the full vaccination program for measles, which was changed in 1998, including a national school-based catch-up, and mistakenly believe they are protected against the disease,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and highly effective protection against measles, and is available for free for those aged 1 to 52 from your GP. If you are unsure whether you have had two doses, it is quite safe to have another dose.”
Protecting children from potentially deadly diseases is a key priority for NSW Health with $22.75 million dedicated in the 2017-2018 budget to immunisation.
NSW children at one and five years of age have some of the highest measles vaccine uptake in Australia, boosted by programs including the:
- Save the Date app campaign ($5.5 million invested since 2013),
- Aboriginal Immunisation Health Worker program ($1.3 million annually), and
- new NSW Government laws that came in on 1 January preventing parents who object to vaccination from enrolling their children in preschools and early childhood centres.
Measles is highly contagious and is spread in the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwell with the disease.
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.
Dr Sheppeard said it was important for people to watch for symptoms, arrange to see the GP if concerned, and limit exposure to others until the GP has made a diagnosis.
“Our public health units are contacting people known to have been in contact with this latest case to offer preventive injections, where appropriate,” she said.
“Vaccination is your best protection against this extremely contagious disease.”