Travel Trouble

Joanita Wibowo

Measles alert: Authorities issue warning after major outbreak

Measles alert: Authorities issue warning after major outbreak

A state health alert for measles has once again been renewed in New South Wales after a Sydney man returned from the Philippines with the contagious disease.

According to NSW Health, the man is the 21st person in the state to have been diagnosed with measles since Christmas.

Authorities are warning people who visited Redfern on Saturday, March 9 between 10.15 am and 11.15 am and Sydney Hospital on Monday, March 11 between 10.30 am and 11.15 am to be on the lookout for measle symptoms as they may have been exposed to the man.

NSW Health Director of Communicable Diseases Dr Vicky Sheppeard said those who may be susceptible to measles can be given preventive injections up to six days after exposure to the infection. The symptoms and signs may include fever, runny nose, dry cough and red, blotchy skin rash.

“If you develop symptoms, please call ahead to your GP to ensure you do not wait in the waiting room with other patients,” said Dr Sheppeard.

Earlier this month, a Sydney woman was found to have measles after arriving from Bali. A Sydney baby who was too young to receive vaccinations also developed measles following a trip to the Philippines.

Other states are also affected. Last month, Victoria saw two confirmed cases of measles with a Victorian man who recently visited India and a teenage girl who developed symptoms following a flight from the Philippines. A resident from Perth was also infected following an interstate travel to Melbourne.

Dr Sheppeard advised travellers to take preventive measures before heading on international trips, particularly to the Philippines where an ongoing measles outbreak has brought about 286 deaths as of March 7.

“The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is safe and effective protection against measles,” said Dr Sheppeard.  

“It’s free for anyone born during or after 1966 who hasn’t already had two doses. If you’re unsure whether you’ve had two doses, it’s safe to have another.”

Victoria's Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton told the ABC that two vaccines are needed to fully protect against the illness.

“People need to have received two doses of measles-containing vaccine to be fully protected,” he said.

“Many adults have only received one vaccine against measles and therefore most cases are in this age group.”

The MMR vaccine can be given to infants as young as 12 months.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that spreads through the air from coughing or sneezing.