Health warning: Another measles case contracted overseas brought back to Sydney

A guide to measles in Australia

Health experts continue to warn people to check they have been immunised against measles. For further information visit: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/

Health authorities have warned that another case of measles contracted overseas has been brought back to Sydney.

It is the seventh such case in nine weeks.

An infectious person travelled from Bangkok to Sydney on March 2 and then spent time having lunch at a restaurant in Marrickville on March 5.

Only two-thirds of two-year-olds in the South West town of Denmark have completed the childhood vaccination schedule.
Only two-thirds of two-year-olds in the South West town of Denmark have completed the childhood vaccination schedule. Photo: Getty Images

Authorities are urging people to ensure they are properly immunised against measles and other infectious diseases.

"It's extremely important to be vaccinated against measles, particularly when travelling overseas to countries where the risk of contracting the disease is higher," said Dr Vicky Sheppeard, director of communicable diseases for NSW Health.

The infected person, a young adult, was in the following locations while infectious between February 28 and March 5:

  • Bangkok SCG stadium in Thailand on February 28
  • Thai Airways flight TG475 from Bangkok arriving March 2
  • A Marrickville restaurant for lunch on March 5.

NSW Health would not release the name of the Marrickville restaurant. However, a spokesperson said if you have concerns you might have been exposed to measles then people should call the Sydney Public Health Unit on 9515 9420 during business hours.

US rock band Guns N' Roses performed at the Bangkok stadium on February 28.

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The other six cases reported were from people who had travelled in Indonesia, India, Spain, Cambodia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand.

Over the past five years, NSW Health said the number of people bringing measles into the state from outside the country had varied between two and 28 cases a year. The total number of reported cases of measles in NSW has ranged between nine and 174.

Dr Sheppeard said the disease is no longer seasonal in Australia.

"Due to high immunisation rates and effective public health action the disease has been eliminated from Australia with limited onward spread from cases occurring in connection with importations," she said

Measles symptoms include fever, sore eyes and a cough followed by the breakout of a red, blotchy rash starting at the head and neck and spreading to the rest of the body. The disease is airborne.

Dr Sheppeard said: "Those people who have not received two doses of measles vaccine are at particular risk of contracting the disease and should be alert to symptoms in the coming days and weeks."

She said measles is highly contagious and can have serious complications, particularly for young children.

"The greater the number of people vaccinated, the greater the herd immunity," Dr Sheppeard said.

NSW Health said anyone born during or since 1966 should have two doses of vaccine at least four weeks apart. For young children, the vaccine is recommended at 12 months and 18 months of age.

The NSW government offers free MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccines through general practitioners.

Dr Sheppeard said the MMR vaccine is safe. She said if you are unsure of your vaccination history "it is better to err on the side of caution and be vaccinated again".

On Sunday, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson recommended parents to "do their own research" into whether they should vaccinate their children.

Health experts and political leaders lined up to condemn her comments.

This week, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has tweeted about the success of the "no jab, no pay" strategy that requires parents vaccinate their children in order to receive family tax benefits and childcare rebates, saying more than 200,000 extra children had been vaccinated since the policy was introduced.

Former head of the federal department of health Stephen Duckett said: "This is a situation where you've got a popular politician with a significant following who's actually giving crazy, crazy medical advice."

On the campaign trail in Western Australia, Senator Hanson told reporters that she had had her own children vaccinated.