More measles in NSW

Pharmacies are among places visited by people who returned overseas with measles

NSW Health has again reiterated its call for people to be vaccinated against the infectious disease after two NSW residents contracted it in South America and New Zealand.

A third man was infectious while on Etihad Airways flight EY 450 from Abu Dhabi, arriving at Sydney International Airport at 06:30am on Saturday 17 August, 2019.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director Communicable Diseases NSW Health, said after their return to Australia, both cases visited several locations in Sydney while infectious. 

“Anyone who was in the same locations as the cases should be alert for signs and symptoms of measles until 8 September,” Dr Sheppeard said.

On Thursday 15 August, the first two travellers visited locations including the Pharmacy 4 Less Late Night Chemist, 171 Pacific Highway Hornsby, between 3:30pm and 4pm; and the pharmacy at the shops at Hazelbrook, at around mid-morning on August 19.

Other locations visited by these individuals include trains between Hazelbrook and central Sydney stations, the Plus Fitness gym in Sydney’s Kent Street and the International Towers Sydney at Barangaroo.

“None of the locations visited by these two people pose an ongoing risk,” Dr Sheppeard said. 

It can take up to 18 days for symptoms to appear following exposure to a person with measles, she noted.

“Symptoms to watch out for include fever, sore eyes and a cough followed three or four days later by a red, blotchy rash that spreads from the head to the rest of the body,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Anyone who develops symptoms of measles should phone their GP to ensure they don’t wait alongside other patients before seeing their doctor.”

Both cases are in their forties – one was unvaccinated and the other reported receiving one dose of the measles vaccine as a child. The two adults remain isolated in hospital for management of complications of their infection.

The third man was reportedly unvaccinated.

Dr Sheappeard said that people who were on the same flight as him or at the Sydney International Airport, including baggage carousels, customs and the arrivals area in the early hours of Saturday morning should be alert for signs and symptoms of measles until 4 September 2019.

She said the three cases demonstrate the importance of adults up to 53 years of age checking their vaccination history before travelling overseas, as they may not have been fully vaccinated as a child.

“Measles cases worldwide have dramatically increased in 2019, and many countries are experiencing large and ongoing outbreaks. This means that all travellers are at risk of measles if they are unvaccinated, not just those travelling to the usual hotspots,” said Dr Sheppeard.

“Two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine provides lifelong protection in 99 out of 100 people who are vaccinated.

“If you are unsure whether you have had two doses of measles vaccine, it is safe to have another.”

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