Baby and woman diagnosed with measles in NSW

baby measles outbreak

A baby who is too young to receive the routine measles vaccine and a woman in her 20s have been diagnosed with the highly contagious disease after returning to Sydney from overseas.

NSW Health is warning Sydney residents and plane passengers who were on a Qantas flight from Bali to be on the lookout for symptoms.

The two latest cases now push the number of people with measles in NSW to 19 since Christmas. A woman aged in her 20s developed a measles rash a few days after arriving in Sydney from Bali, Indonesia on February 21.

The woman was infectious while on Qantas flight QF44, which arrived from Bali at Sydney International Airport at 6:30am on Thursday 21 February.

Passengers on this flight and people at Sydney International Airport around her arrival time, including baggage carousels and customs areas, are advised to watch for signs and symptoms of measles until 16 March.

While infectious, the woman also:

  • Stayed at the Langham Hotel, 89-113 Kent Street, Sydney
  • Visited the Opera House on Thursday, February 21
  • The woman attended St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney but did not require admission.

The local public health unit is working with St Vincent’s to provide information to other patients present in the emergency department at the same time.

The infant, who was too young to receive their routine measles vaccine, developed measles within days of returning home to Sydney from the Philippines.

While infectious the infant visited:

  • Macquarie Shopping Centre, Tuesday February 26, between 1pm and 2pm
  • My Health Macquarie, Friday March 1, 10:15am – 11:30am and Saturday March 2, 11:30am – 12pm
  • Macquarie Shopping Centre, Saturday March 2, between 9am and 12pm
  • Penny Lane Café, 1/31 Brighton St, Curl Curl, Sunday March 3, between 8am and 9am
  • Northern Beaches Hospital, Sunday March 3, between 12:40pm and 1:45pm

NSW Health’s Communicable Diseases Branch Director Dr Vicky Sheppeard said while the sites do not pose any ongoing risk to the public, people who visited at the same time as the infant should look out for symptoms until March 21.

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

The local public health unit is working with the My Health Macquarie medical centre and Northern Beaches Hospital to contact other patients who were present when the infant attended to offer preventive treatment if needed.

Here’s what you need to know about the measles outbreak:

What you need to know early measles symptoms

Measles symptoms on toddler

Measles has an incubation period between 7 and 18 days (average 14 days from exposure to rash).

Who is at risk?

  • Children younger than five-years-old
  • Anyone with a chronic illness
  • Anyone who hasn’t been immunised

What are the symptoms?

  • First symptoms include fever (at least 38°C), a severe cough and conjunctivitis (sore, red eyes).
  • General discomfort, illness or lack of wellbeing (malaise)
  • Runny nose
  • 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 and usually lasts more than three days.

How does measles spread?

The virus is usually spread when someone swallows or inhales a cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person. However, you can also catch it from touching surfaces that have been contaminated by someone who has the measles – the virus in mucus and saliva droplets stays alive for several hours.

The time from exposure to the onset of symptoms is between a week and 18 days. 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.

What about the risk from overseas travel?

Outbreaks of measles in popular tourist destinations means the risk for measles being imported into Australia at the moment is high.

NSW Health urges everyone to ensure they are fully vaccinated before heading overseas. Infants under 12 months of age can receive their first measles vaccine as early as 9 months old to protect them when they travel.

“The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is safe and effective protection against measles,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“It is free for anyone born during or after 1966 who hasn’t already had two doses. If you’re unsure whether you’ve had two doses, it’s quite safe to have another.”

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