NSW Health is urging people to watch for measles symptoms after a young adult who contracted the disease overseas spent time in Sydney’s CBD, inner west and Baulkham Hills area while infectious.

The measles case was infectious while visiting the following locations in Sydney between 31 January and 4 February:

  • Norton Plaza, Leichhardt – 31 Jan
  • Stockland Mall, Baulkham Hills – 1 Feb
  • Martin Place food court – 2 Feb
  • Mary’s (restaurant and bar) Newtown – 2 Feb (evening)
  • University of Sydney – 3 Feb
  • PACT centre for emerging artists Erskineville – 4 Feb (evening).

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director Communicable Diseases NSW Health, said the case also frequently used inner west train services and took a return journey on buses between Town Hall and Baulkham Hills on Thursday 2 February whilst unknowingly infectious.

“Measles is highly contagious and is spread in the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwell with the disease,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“This latest case highlights the importance of getting vaccinated to protect against the disease. A highly effective measles vaccine has been freely available for many years and it is vital for everyone, including adults and children, to have two doses of the measles vaccine during their life time.

“Those people who have not received two doses of measles vaccine are at particular risk of contracting the disease and should be alert to symptoms in the coming days and weeks.”

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. Measles can have serious complications, particularly for young children.

Dr Sheppeard said people with measles symptoms should seek medical advice as soon as possible, stay home from work or school, and limit other activities to avoid exposing other vulnerable people, such as infants, to the infection.

“Please call ahead to your doctor or emergency department so that arrangements can be made to keep you away from others to minimise the risk of spreading the infection,” she said.

Anyone born during or since 1966 should have two doses of vaccine (at least four weeks apart). For young children, the measles vaccine is recommended at 12 months and again at 18 months of age. NSW Health offers free MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine through GPs for people born during or since 1966 with no records of having received two doses of MMR vaccine.

“Children or adults born during or since 1966 who do not have documented evidence of receiving two doses of measles vaccine, or evidence of previous measles infection, are likely to be susceptible to measles and should be vaccinated as soon as possible,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“It is safe to have the vaccine more than twice, so people who are unsure should be vaccinated.”

Dr Sheppeard said this latest measles case contracted the disease while overseas but was not infectious until back in Sydney.

“People planning to travel overseas should ensure they are fully vaccinated against measles before departure to reduce their risk of contracting measles and bringing the disease back to Australia.”