Australia

Queensland and NSW on measles alert after tourists bring virus home

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NSW Health has issued a new measles alert after two tourists were at Gold Coast airport and several NSW north coast towns while infectious.

Two unvaccinated Australian tourists have sparked a measles alert in the region with the worst immunisation rates in the country.

NSW Health is warning visitors to Gold Coast airport and several NSW north coast towns to remain alert for measles symptoms after the pair of returned travellers caught the disease in Asia.

At 90.6 per cent, NSW North Coast has the worst rate of fully vaccinated five-year-olds of any primary health network in Australia, according to national data.

Gold Coast doesn't fare much better at 92.2 per cent - 2.5 per cent lower than the national average.

Since Christmas, NSW has recorded 33 measles cases - a rate almost five times higher than over the two years before that.

The two travellers, aged in their 20s, likely acquired the infection while in the Philippines in mid-March and were unwell before landing on the Gold Coast on March 30, NSW Health said.

They visited shops in Pottsville and Cabarita on April 2 before seeking medical treatment in Murwillumbah and Tweed Hospital the following day.

Anyone on Scoot flight TR6 on March 30 or in the same locations as the travellers have been urged to be alert until April 22 for measles symptoms, which including fever and a cough followed by a blotchy rash days later.

Acting director of Public Health for the Mid North Coast and Northern NSW Local Health Districts Greg Bell said anyone susceptible to measles who visited those locations on the same days should contact 1300 066 055 for advice. 

“The local public health unit is working with the medical centre and hospital to contact other patients who were present at the same time as the infectious people and offer preventive treatment as appropriate,” Mr Bell said.

The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is free for anyone born after 1965 who haven't had two doses.

Vaccination rates in NSW are at their highest level ever, with more than 95 per cent of five-year-olds fully vaccinated against measles.

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