Look out for measles: public health warning
THE North Coast Public Health Unit is advising people in the Tweed-Byron area to be alert for measles.
One person, who lives in the Byron Bay area was seen at Byron District and The Tweed Hospitals, has been diagnosed with the highly contagious disease.
Mr Greg Bell, Public Health Assistant Director, said that measles is highly infectious among people who are not fully immunised.
"Measles is spread through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms can include fever, tiredness, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes, which usually lasts for several days before a red blotchy rash appears. Complications range from an ear infection and diarrhoea, through to pneumonia and swelling of the brain (encephalitis)," Mr Bell said.
"Vaccination with measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) inoculation is the only way to prevent infection."
Two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended for children, with the first dose at 12 months and the second at 18 months of age," Mr Bell said.
People born during or after 1966 who don't have two documented doses of MMR vaccine should contact their local health provider for vaccination advice.
The MMR vaccine is free to people born during or after 1966. People born before 1966 are usually immune because they had measles during childhood.
The time from exposure to the onset of symptoms is typically 8 to 18 days. People are infectious 4-5 days before onset of the rash and 4-5 days after appearance of the rash.
"Anyone who contracts measles should stay away from work, preschool, school and other public places until at least 4 days after the onset of the rash, when they are no longer infectious," Mr Bell said.
"Anyone with symptoms of measles should phone their General Practitioner in advance before arriving for assessment to ensure they can be isolated from other patients."
Vaccination is the only way of preventing the occurrence of measles in our community. For vaccination to be effective, a high level of MMR vaccine coverage must be maintained.
For more information on measles, please go to www.health.nsw.gov.au.