Measles can be particularly nasty for young children, NSW Health says. Photo: Health Department Measles rash on a person’s stomach. Photo: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
A fourth case of measles has been detected in Sydney, prompting renewed warnings from health authorities after the latest patient visited multiple public sites while still infectious.
Earlier this month NSW Health advised three adults who had contracted the disease had spent considerable time in the Sydney metropolitan area while they were infectious.
The fourth adult had been in contact with one of the earlier cases and had visited a number of locations on December 23 and 24 while infectious, including restaurants and shops in Leichhardt, Pyrmont and Neutral Bay, NSW Health said on Wednesday.
The individual had also travelled on public transport on routes in the inner west.
The three other cases visited multiple locations between November 26 and December 15 including: Inner city hospital emergency departments;GP clinics and medical centres in George Street, Sydney, Darlinghurst, Leichhardt, Camperdown and Bondi;Restaurants and shops in the CBD, Ultimo, Bondi, Bondi Junction, Leichhardt, Double Bay, Chatswood and Marrickville;Public transport on routes in the centre, north and east of the city.
“The measles virus is highly contagious and is spread through the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwell with the disease,” said NSW Health’s Acting Director Communicable Diseases, Dr Sean Tobin.
“If you develop the symptoms of measles, seek medical advice, but make sure that you call ahead to your doctor or hospital emergency department so that you can be isolated from others to minimise the risk of infection,” Dr Tobin said
Measles has an incubation period of up to 18 days.
Symptoms 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.
Victorian health authorities detected more than 30 measles cases earlier this year amid what they described as a “significant outbreak”.
Dr Tobin said the new case highlighted 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 lifetime,” Dr Tobin said.
“Those people who have not received two doses of measles vaccine should be alert to the symptoms of measles in the coming days and weeks as the measles cases have moved in many parts of Sydney,” he said.
The latest data from the n Childhood Immunisation Register shows 92.4 per cent of 24 to 27 month-olds in NSW received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
The data shows 94 per cent of 60 to 63 month olds had received their second dose.
Almost one in 10 two-year-olds in northern Sydney and western Sydney had not received their second MMR dose, the 2015 NSW Immunisation Coverage Report showed.
A total of 90.7 per cent of 24-month-olds had received the full MMR vaccination. In western Sydney the full coverage rate was 90.3 per cent, the report found.
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.