NSW Health has warned of a measles outbreak, urging members of the public to check that they and their children are fully immunised against the illness.
Since the start of the year, 26 cases of measles have been reported in the state – seven of which occurred in just the past week.
Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director of Communicable Diseases at NSW Health, has said that measles is highly contagious and dangerous among people who are not fully immunised.
“Measles is spread through coughing and sneezing, and is one of the most contagious infections known,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“Complications can range from swelling of the brain and pneumonia to ear infections and diarrhoea.”
The surge in cases appears to be linked to under-vaccinated young people travelling to the Philippines, Vietnam, and other parts of and South-East Asia. Upon their return, they have infected people in Bathurst, on the Central Coast, and metropolitan Sydney.
An infectious traveller has also spent time in Tamworth, Armidale and Singleton.
According to NSW Health, there may be other people in the community with measles now, or who will be developing symptoms and spreading the disease over the next few weeks.
Babies under the age of the 12 months, who are too young to be immunised, and children who have not been fully vaccinated are most at risk of suffering from dangerous complications of the disease.
Symptoms of measles include two to four days of fever, a cough, a stuffy/runny nose, and conjunctivitis. A rash then appears on the face and neck before spreading across the body.
The disease is infectious from the day before the first symptoms appear to four days after the rash appears.
If you suspect that your or your child has measles call your doctor or local hospital, so they can organise to see the patient without exposing others to the illness.