Australians warned to guard against measles

Peter Terlato 10 January 2017

measles child sick home

Health authorities issue important immunisation advice.

Following a measles health scare aboard an international flight to Sydney last week, health authorities are warning Australians to be on the lookout for visible symptoms and have offered guidance on how to minimise the risk of infection.

NSW Health reports a young woman, infected with the measles virus, travelled on Virgin Australia Airlines flight VA70 from Denpasar, Bali to Sydney, Australia on 1 January 2017.

The woman presented to Sutherland Hospital emergency department on 4 January and the hospital has been contacting people and patients who may have been exposed during her visit.

NSW Health said this was an isolated case and not linked to the four cases reported last month.

In December 2016, the ABC reported four people who had spent a significant amount of time in Sydney's metropolitan area had been diagnosed with the infectious and easily contagious measles virus.

WA authorities identified two new measles cases in children from non-vaccinating families last month.

In July 2016, there was a spate of measles cases in Victoria. Then, Victoria's acting chief health officer Finn Romanes warned there was a good chance more cases had gone unnoticed.

Symptoms include fever, sore eyes and coughing 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 medical complications, particularly for young children.

Children or adults born during or since 1966 who don't have documented evidence of receiving two doses of measles vaccine, or evidence of previous infection, should be vaccinated.

For young children, the measles vaccine is recommended at 12 months and again at 18 months of age.

Two doses of the vaccine generally provides lifelong protection.

NSW Health offers free MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine through registered GPs for people born after 1965 with no record of having received two doses of MMR vaccine.

Find out everything you need to know about getting your children properly immunised.

Compare health insurance plans to find one which covers the costs of MMR and other vaccinations.

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