Measles are highly contagious and symptoms include a rash and fever. Photo: Teseum/ Foter/ CCBY-NC

NSW health professionals are urging the public to update their measles vaccination after a recent surge in patients, writes Zoe Ferguson

NSW is suffering from the largest measles outbreak in over a decade, according to new information from the state’s health department. From April, the outbreak has accrued 145 cases, 54 of which have been diagnosed this month.

With numbers continuing to rise, the outbreak has health professionals beseeching the public to ensure they have had both their MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) immunisations.

NSW Health director for health protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty, said that a quarter to a third of people with measles require hospitalisation.
“It’s incredibly contagious but preventative through vaccination. We need everyone between 1 and 47 years vaccinated,” he said.

The outbreak has been concentrated in the Campbelltown and Liverpool area with 95 confirmed cases diagnosed in the past four months. Three cases of the serious strain of the virus were diagnosed in Illawara in Sydney’s southwest.

It is rare in today’s medical climate that measles break out in NSW because of the strong immunisation program. However the measles virus did so in April due to a young adult, who returned from overseas, unintentionally infected separate individuals and rapidly spread the disease.

Australian children are usually immunised at 12 months and again at four years old. The outbreak may have been caused by children not receiving the second jab.

Initial measles symptoms include fever, tiredness, cough, runny nose, sore red eyes and feeling unwell. A few days later a rash appears. The rash starts on the face, spreads down to the body and lasts for 4-7 days.

If  you are unsure if you are sufficiently immunised, please consider seeing your GP.