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Australia: NSW Health reports 29th measles case

NSW Health is urging people aged between 20 and 50 years to have the free, safe measles vaccine after the 29th person in the state was diagnosed with the highly infectious disease.

The latest person to contract measles is the fifth case connected to the Sutherland Shire outbreak and was in the following locations while infectious.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director Communicable Diseases, NSW Health, said most of the state’s 29 cases were aged between 20 and 50 years and the majority were unaware they were not completely vaccinated as children.

Measles/CDC

“People aged 20-50 years may have missed out on the full vaccination program for measles, which was changed in 1998 to include 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 one to 51 at your GP. If you are unsure whether you have had two doses, it is quite safe to have another dose.

“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.

“However it will not be possible to identify and contact all people who may have been exposed. We encourage people who were in the same locations as the latest case to keep a close watch for symptoms and get vaccinated.

“Vaccination is your best protection against this extremely contagious disease.”

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