Measles outbreak prompts urgent public health alert in Sydney

RESIDENTS are being urged to take advantage of the free measles vaccine following an outbreak of the potentially deadly disease in western Sydney.

Ten people have been diagnosed with the highly contagious virus in the past week alone, bringing the total number of cases in NSW so far this year to 19.

The spike in cases has prompted authorities to issue an urgent public health alert.


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Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director of Communicable Diseases at NSW Health, said the recent cases reinforced the importance of getting vaccinated.

“Ten cases have now been confirmed in the past week, signalling an outbreak of measles in western Sydney particularly in the Auburn and Bankstown local government areas,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“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.”

The latest cases visited the following known locations while infectious:

• Wyndham College at Quakers Hill – 28-30 March
• The train between Flemington and Quakers Hill – 28-30 March
• Fairfield District Medical Centre – 26 and 31 March
• Fairfield Hospital Emergency Department – 1 April
• Westmead Children’s Hospital Emergency Department – 1-2 April.
• The Auburn area, including Pharmacy 4 Less – 28 March – 4 April and Michel’s Patisserie – 1 April
• NAS Medical Centre, Auburn – 3 April.

Public health authorities are now in the process of contacting people who were in the above areas to offer preventive injections.

NSW Health is urging people in western Sydney to take advantage of the free measles vaccine, available at GPs, and to watch for measles symptoms, particularly in babies who are too young to receive this vaccination.

Symptoms of measles 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.

Dr Sheppeard said people with measles symptoms should seek medical advice as soon as possible, stay home from work or school, and limit other activities to avoid exposing other vulnerable people, such as infants, to the infection.

“Please call ahead to your doctor or emergency department so that arrangements can be made to keep you away from others to minimise the risk of spreading the infection,” she said.

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

“Unless you are certain you have had two doses of measles vaccine, you should visit your GP as soon as possible for free measles vaccination, as it is safe to have it again.”