NSW Health is urging people aged between 20 and 50 years to have the free, safe measles vaccine with almost 30 people now diagnosed with the highly infectious disease.
The latest person to contract measles is the fifth case connected to the Sutherland Shire outbreak, visiting Canterbury Hospital on October 10 between 9:30am and 1pm before visiting Aldi Canterbury between 1pm and 2pm.
The next day they visited Miranda Westfield from 1pm to 3pm.
NSW Health Director of Communicable Diseases Dr Vicky Sheppeard said most of the state’s 29 cases were aged between 20 and 50 years and the majority were unaware they weren’t completely vaccinated as children.
“People aged 20-50 years may have missed out on the full vaccination program for measles, which was changed in 1998 to include a national school-based catch-up, and mistakenly believe they are protected against the disease,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and highly effective protection against measles, and is available for free for those aged one to 51 at your GP. If you are unsure whether you have had two doses, it is quite safe to have another dose.
“Measles is highly contagious and is spread in the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwell with the disease.”
Symptoms of measles 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 Sheppeard said it was important for people to watch for symptoms, arrange to see the GP if concerned, and limit exposure to others until the GP has made a diagnosis.
“Vaccination is your best protection against this extremely contagious disease,” she said.