Measles outbreak: NSW Government issues health alert in Sydney

measles outbreak

There have been ten confirmed cases of measles in western Sydney in the past week, with Auburn and Bankstown particularly affected, a NSW Health Alert reveals.

19 NSW cases this year

The infectious ten people have spent time on Sydney’s public transport system, as well as at a number of hospitals and medical facilities including the Westmead Children’s Hospital.

“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 Vicky Sheppeard, Director, Communicable Diseases at NSW Health said in a just-released statement.
 
“This brings the total number of cases in NSW, with onset this year, to 19,” Dr Sheppeard confirmed.

Measles in your neighbourhood? 

NSW Health says the latest measles 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 

The current outbreak

Here’s what we know about the most recent outbreak:

  • The most recent ten cases were contracted locally.
  • The cases earlier this year were acquired overseas.
  • One case contracted overseas has resulted in 13 subsequent measles cases, including the 6 most recent.
  • 3 of the latest 6 cases of measles are patients who live in the same house as two measles patients reported to authorities a couple of weeks ago.
  • The other 3 measles cases don’t know each other, but have spent time in the same location.
    Source: NSW Health via

Measles 101

Measles is a highly contagious, airborne viral illness. Measles is usually spread via mucus or saliva droplet infection from an infected person. The virus can also be spread via contaminated surfaces or objects from hand to mouth.
 
Measles symptoms usually occur about 10 to 12 days after infection. Symptoms of measles may include:
  • fever
  • general discomfort or feeling unwell
  • runny nose
  • dry cough
  • sore, red eyes
  • red and bluish spots inside the mouth (Koplik’s spots)
  • red and blotchy skin rash that appears first on the face and hairline, and then spreads to the body. 
Sometimes considered a routine childhood illness, measles can actually have serious, potentially fatal, complications including pneumonia and encephalitis and is definitely not to be taken lightly.
 
Measles is also potentially dangerous for pregnant women and can cause miscarriage or premature labour.
 
“If you develop the symptoms of measles, seek medical advice,” Dr Sheppeard said, urging people to inform their GP or other health practitioner of their suspicions, before attending.
 
“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 infection.”
 
These latest measles cases follow hot on the heels of a recent outbreak in Western Australia, where three children contracted measles from an unvaccinated child.
 
A case of measles was also reported recently in Melbourne, with authorities concerned that more would follow. 
 
 
Australian Immunisation Schedule

Patchy vaccination rates 

While experts consistently – and wisely – urge us to vaccinate our children, the ABC recently reported that rates of vaccination for adults are a serious problem too.
 
Our latest research shows that only 51 per cent of older Australian adults receive all government-funded vaccinations each year, compared to 93 per cent of Australian children, and 73 per cent of Australian adolescents,” the ABC report said.

Get vaccinated!

NSW Health’s Dr Sheppeard urged people to comply with the recommended vaccination schedule to protect themselves and their children from outbreaks.

“The recent cases reinforce the importance of getting vaccinated. 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.”
 
“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,” their statement read.
 
For more information about immunisation in Australia, head to the Immunise Australia Program website or pop into your GP.

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