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.
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