With at least seven cases of measles diagnosed in NSW since Christmas, health professionals are reminding people to be aware of potential symptoms.
People usually catch measles during overseas travel, however the number of recent cases with exposures in and around Sydney means many people may have been exposed locally and could be developing symptoms now or over the coming days and weeks, according to Christine Selvey, the NSW Health acting director of communicable diseases.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District's director of public health Tracey Oakman said it can take up to 18 days for symptoms to appear following exposure to a person with measles.
"Symptoms to watch out for include fever, sore eyes and a cough followed three or four days later by a red, spotty rash that spreads from the head to the rest of the body," Mrs Oakman said.
Measles is highly contagious and is spread in the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwell with the disease.
"Anyone who develops symptoms of measles should phone their GP to ensure they don't wait alongside other patients before seeing their doctor."
Mrs Oakman said people born before 1966 were likely to have had measles as a child and are considered immune.
"For people born during or after 1966, the best protection against measles is receiving two doses of measles vaccine," she said.
"The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and provides effective protection against measles. It's free for anyone born during or after 1966 who hasn't already had two doses. If you're unsure whether you've had two doses, it's safe to have another," she said.
While the risk of infection is low in fully-vaccinated people, health experts urge anyone who comes into contact with someone who has measles to remain alert for symptoms, Mrs Oakman said.
For more information on measles visit the NSW Health website.
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