Measles outbreak

An ongoing measles outbreak in the Philippines has prompted an urgent reminder for people traveling to the Philippines to check they and their children are fully immunized for measles before their departure.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director of Communicable Diseases at NSW Health, said measles is highly contagious among people who are not fully immunized.

“Measles is spread through coughing and sneezing, and is one of the most contagious infections known,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Complications can range from swelling of the brain and pneumonia to ear infections and diarrhoea.

“In recent weeks there have been 7 cases of measles reported in NSW. Five were associated with travel to the Philippines – including 3 young children who were admitted to hospital. Cases from the Philippines have also been reported in Western Australia.

“NSW Health urges everyone planning on travelling to the Philippines to ensure they are up to date with their vaccinations before they travel. Anyone born during or after 1966 should have two doses of measles vaccine (at least 4 weeks apart). Even one dose gives around 90% protection.

“Children should receive measles vaccine at 12 months and a second dose at 18 months. Babies who are travelling before their vaccines are due can be given the first dose as early as 9 months of age.

“Children over 18 months who have not had their second dose of measles vaccine can be vaccinated now.

“People returning from the Philippines should be on the look out for symptoms of measles, which starts with a fever, cough, sore red eyes and a runny nose for several days before a blotchy rash appears. People who have these symptoms should see a doctor – but call ahead to protect others in the waiting room. Let the GP know that they could have been exposed to measles in the Philippines.

For more information on measles, please go to www.health.nsw.gov.au.