Young man with hand foot and mouth disease
Young man with hand foot and mouth disease

Measles alert issued for vulnerable community

A MEASLES alert has been issued after an infectious person from Queensland crossed the border.

Northern NSW Local Health District issued the alert this morning.

The person visited several locations in Mullumbimby last weekend while suffering from the highly contagious disease.

Measles presents a particular threat in northern NSW, due to low immunisation rates.

People who visited Mullumbimby IGA and Liberty Petrol Station between the afternoon of Saturday, November 2 and about 1.30pm on Sunday, November 3 may have been exposed.

North Coast Public Health Unit acting director Greg Bell said the convenience store and service station do not pose an ongoing risk.

However, anyone in the area at the same time as the infected person should watch for measles symptoms until November 21.

"It can take up to 18 days for symptoms to appear following exposure to a person

with measles," Mr Bell said.

"Symptoms to watch out for include fever, sore eyes and a cough followed three or four days later by a red, blotchy rash that spreads from the head to the rest of the body.

"Anyone who develops symptoms of measles should arrange to see their GP and limit their exposure to others, including patients at the GP clinic."

People who visited Mullumbimby IGA and Liberty Petrol Station between the afternoon of Saturday, November 2 and about 1.30pm on Sunday, November 3 may have been exposed to measles. Picture: istock
People who visited Mullumbimby IGA and Liberty Petrol Station between the afternoon of Saturday, November 2 and about 1.30pm on Sunday, November 3 may have been exposed to measles. Picture: istock

Mr Bell urged residents of Mullumbimby and surrounds to make sure they received two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which provides lifelong protection in 99 out of 100 people who are vaccinated.

"The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is safe and effective protection against measles," he said.

"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."

Measles spreads through the air when someone who is infectious coughs or sneezes.

The risk of infection is low in fully-vaccinated people, but health experts warn anyone who comes into contact with an infectious person to watch for symptoms.

Earlier this year, the Bulletin reported the latest Annual Immunisation Coverage Report showed only 92 per cent of five-year-olds in northern NSW have been vaccinated, compared to 95 per cent statewide.

But statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare indicated parts of the region had far lower rates.

Up to 60 per cent of five-year-olds in Mullumbimby were not fully immunised, compared to 4.5 per cent across the country in 2016-2017, ranging to 30 per cent in Byron Bay.

People exposed to measles or developing measles-like symptoms should seek medical attention.


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