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Health Alert: Measles confirmed in Lithgow

14 Sep 2018

 

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD) is urging people to be on the lookout for measles symptoms after an unvaccinated adult, who contracted the disease during an overseas trip, spent time in Lithgow, Portland and Meadow Flat during September while infectious.

The patient presented to Lithgow Hospital on 8 September in the morning and on the evening of 10 September. The patient also visited Portland Pharmacy while unwell on 6 September and the ‘Karoo’ Annual Bull Sale at Meadow Flat on 7 September.

Dr Sheena Kakar from the NBMLHD Public Health Unit says contact is being made with people who may have been directly exposed to the virus.

"Measles is highly contagious. It can be spread by coughing or sneezing by someone who is infected," says Dr Kakar.

The time from exposure to the disease to the onset of symptoms is typically about 10 days but can be as long as 18 days so people should be particularly alert to symptoms until October.

Measles 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 Dr Kakar says people with these symptoms should see their GP if they have symptoms but be sure to call ahead, so they can limit exposure to others in the surgery until a diagnosis has been made.

"People with measles symptoms should stay home from work or school to avoid exposing other vulnerable people, such as infants, to the infection,” says Dr Kakar.

“The best protection from measles is to be vaccinated,” says Dr Kakar. Lithgow has some of the best vaccination rates in NSW against measles with around 98 percent of children over 24 months and adults vaccinated against the virus.

“The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is free for those aged 1 to 52 from your GP. It provides safe and highly effective protection against measles, and if you are unsure if you have been previously vaccinated it is safe to get another dose.”

Protecting children from potentially deadly diseases is a key priority for the NSW Government, which has invested approximately $130 million in the 2018-19 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.

More information on measles.

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