Measles alert for Central Coast and plane passengers

NSWHealth is alerting Central Coast residents and people on a 25 May flight fromthe Philippines to Sydney to be aware of measles symptoms after an infant onthe flight was diagnosed with the disease.

Theinfant, who is under 12 months of age, was infectious while on Cebu Pacificflight 5J 41 – which arrived from Manila at Sydney International Airport at09:50am – and developed a measles rash a few days after.

While the risk of infection is low infully-vaccinated people, anyone on this flight and at Sydney International Airport aroundthe arrival time, includingat baggage carousels and in customs areas, are advised to watch for symptoms overthe next two weeks, as it can take up to 18 daysfor symptoms to appear following exposure to a person with measles.

Thislatest case of the highly contagious disease has pushed the total number ofpeople in NSW diagnosed with measles to 35 this year (42 since Christmas 2018).

Whileinfectious, the infant also visited:

  • ToukleyFamily Practice, Wednesday 29 May, 11:00am – 12:00pm
  • WyongHospital Emergency Department, Wednesday 29 May, between 10:00pm and 11:30pm,and Friday 31 May, between 05:30pm and 07:00pm.

NSWHealth’s Communicable Diseases Branch Acting Director Dr Sean Tobin said whilethese sites do not pose any ongoing risk to the public, the local public healthunit is working to identify other people who were present when the infantattended and who may be highly susceptible to measles.

People in these CentralCoast locations at the same time, who may be highly susceptible to measles suchas:

  • Children under the age of 12 months,
  • people with a weakened immune system (e.g.from cancer therapy or high dose steroid use),
  • pregnant women,

should contacttheir local public health unit on 1300 066 055, as preventive injections can beadministered to people up to 6 days after exposure, for highly susceptiblepeople.

All people who wereat the same locations at the same time as the infant should be alert for signsand symptoms of measles until 18 June.

“If youdo develop symptoms, please call ahead to your GP so you do not wait in thewaiting room with other patients,” Dr Tobin, said.

Symptomsinclude fever, sore eyes and a cough followed three or four days later by ared, blotchy rash spreading from the head and neck to the rest of the body. Measlescan be spread in the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwellwith the disease.

Outbreaksof measles in popular tourist destinations means the risk for measles beingimported into Australia at the moment is high.

NSWHealth urges everyone to ensure they are fully vaccinated before headingoverseas. Infants under 12 months of age can receive their first measlesvaccine as early as six months old to protect them when they travel.

“Themeasles-mumps-rubella vaccine is safe and effective protection againstmeasles,” Dr Tobin said.

“It isfree for anyone born during or after 1966 who hasn’t already had two doses. Ifyou’re unsure whether you’ve had two doses, it’s quite safe to have another.”

Protecting children from potentially deadlydiseases is a key priority for the NSW Government, which has investedapproximately $130 million in the 2018-19 Immunisation Program budget,including Commonwealth and state vaccines.

Thelatest Annual Immunisation Coverage Report shows vaccination rates in NSW areat their highest level ever, with more than 95 per cent of five-year-oldsvaccinated against measles.

For moreinformation on measles visit:

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