Two babies too young to be vaccinated infected with measles in Sydney

Two infants have contracted measles in public areas in Sydney.
Two infants have contracted measles in public areas in Sydney. Photo: Supplied

Two babies too young to be vaccinated have contracted measles in Sydney, as NSW is on track to record its highest rate of the disease in five years.

An eight-month-old and an 11-month-old have been diagnosed with the highly-contagious infection, prompting NSW Health to again warn the public to be looking out for measles symptoms.

The infants likely caught the infection from two previously reported measles cases, who spent time in a number of public places while infectious: a backpacker in the CBD and a man in Eastwood.

The babies bring the total number of measles cases in NSW since Christmas to 29.

The two cases highlight the importance of maintaining high rates of measles immunisation within communities (herd immunity) to cut the risk of travellers unknowingly acquiring the disease overseas and bringing it back to Australia, NSW Health advised.

Herd immunity also helps to stop the spread of measles and protects people who are unable to be vaccinated, including infants under 12 months old and people with weakened immune systems.

The eight-month-old most likely contracted the disease in the Haymarket area near World
 Square. While infectious, the baby spent time at:

  • Yass Korean BBQ Buffet in Strathfield on Tuesday, March 26 between 6.30pm and 10pm;
  • Time Brasserie, Time Plaza Hurstville on Wednesday, March 27 between 4pm and 
5.30pm;
  • St George Hospital Emergency Department on
 Saturday, March 30 between 7.30pm and 11pm.

The 11-month-old likely caught the infection in the Eastwood area, and while infectious spent time at:

Advertisement
  • Eastwood Plaza, including play areas near Woolworths and on the first floor on Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24;
  • Castle Mall, Castle Hill, including play area on the lower ground floor on Tuesday 26 and Friday 29 March;
  • The North Village, Kellyville on Wednesday, March 27, Friday, March 29 and 
Saturday, March 30;
  • North Village Family Practice, Kellyville, on
 Wednesday, March 27 between 12 noon and 1.15pm, Friday, March 29 between 5.30pm and 6.30pm and Saturday, March 30 between 
9am and 12 noon.

NSW Health director of communicable diseases Dr Vicky Sheppeard said people who may be
 susceptible to measles and were present at the above locations at the identified 
times should contact their local public health unit for advice (1300 066 055).

It can take up to 18 days for symptoms to appear and people who have spent time in the same locations at the same times as these infants should be alert for signs and symptoms of measles until April 18, Dr Sheppeard said.

Measles is spread in the air through coughing or sneezing
 by someone who is unwell with the disease. 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.

“If you develop symptoms, please call ahead to your GP to ensure you do not wait in
 the waiting room with other patients,” Dr Sheppeard said.

Local public health units are working with medical practices and
 hospitals to follow up other patients present at the same time as the infants and offer 
preventive treatment as appropriate.

“The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is safe and effective protection against
 measles. It’s free for anyone born during or after 1966 who hasn’t already had two
 doses," Dr Sheppeard said.

"If you’re unsure whether you’ve had two doses, it’s safe to have another."