New South Wales (NSW) Health has issued a measles warning following two cases of the highly infectious disease recently diagnosed in young Sydney adults who had traveled to India.
The first case, reported to NSW Health on April 17, had been in the Pyrmont area while infectious prior to measles being diagnosed. The second case was infectious on QF82 from Singapore to Sydney, arriving on April 18.
NSW Health’s Director of the Communicable Diseases Branch, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, is urging travelers to check their measles vaccination status before going overseas.
“Diseases such as measles remain common in many countries and without vaccination you can become infected while traveling, and then spread the disease to other susceptible people. In 2015, three of the six cases of measles in NSW have been acquired in India,” said Dr Sheppeard.
“Measles is highly infectious and contagious for people who are not fully immunized. It is easily spread through coughing and sneezing. If you are not fully immunized or intend to travel overseas make sure you talk to your GP about measles vaccination,” she said.
Symptoms of measles can include fever, tiredness, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes, which usually last for several days before a red, blotchy rash appears. Complications can range from ear infection to pneumonia or swelling of the brain.
“The time from exposure to the onset of symptoms is typically around 10 days but it can be as long as 18 days, so people who were exposed to these two cases could have symptoms already or develop them over the next week,” Dr Sheppeard said.
Children should receive two doses of vaccine, one at 12 months and the second at 18 months of age. Anyone born after 1965 should have two doses of vaccine (at least 4 weeks apart).
NSW Health offers free measles-mumps-rubella vaccine through GPs for people born after 1965.