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Measles alert for Sydney over passenger from Bali

January 9, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

NSW Health has urged Sydney residents to look out for symptoms of measles after an infected passenger flew in from Bali on a Virgin Australia flight on New Year’s Day.

NSW Health said the passenger, a young woman, arrived in Sydney on Virgin Australia flight VA70 from Denpasar, Bali. She visited Sutherland Hospital’s emergency department on 4 January 2016, while still infectious. Measles symptoms usually occur about 10 to 12 days after infection.

NSW Health also warned that measles outbreaks are happening in many places around the world, “and people who travel overseas should ensure that they are fully vaccinated against measles”.

“The measles virus is highly contagious and is spread through the air by someone who is unwell with the disease,” acting director, Communicable Diseases Branch at NSW Health, Dr Sean Tobin said.

“If you develop the symptoms of measles, seek medical advice. 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 infection.”

Measles is highly contagious viral infection spread through coughing and sneezing. It is rare in Australia but unimmunised people are at risk of contracting it.

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.
 
“The measles virus is highly contagious and is spread through the air by someone who is unwell with the disease,” Dr Tobin said.
 
“If you develop the symptoms of measles, seek medical advice. 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 infection.
 
For young children, the measles vaccine is recommended at 12 months and again at 18 months of age. Two doses of the vaccine are required for lifelong protection.”
 
Anyone born after 1965 should have two doses of vaccine (at least four weeks apart). NSW Health offers free MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine through GPs for people born after 1965 with no records of having received two doses of MMR vaccine.

In the rougher, tougher days of the early-to-mid 20th century, measles was considered a routine childhood infection. Chicken pox and mumps were regarded similarly. Measles is now regarded as a potentially deadly disease, a potential cause of serious complications such as pneumonia (lung infection) and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). It may also cause middle ear infection.

Written by Peter Needham

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