NSW Health is urging people to be alert for signs and symptoms of measles after being notified of one confirmed case of measles who was infectious on an international flight into Sydney.

An adult passenger acquired their infection while travelling in Africa.

People may have been exposed to the case in the following locations and should monitor for symptoms:

  • Monday 2 October 2023 arriving 7am on QF128 Hong Kong to Sydney
  • Sydney Airport – Terminal 1 International Arrivals (including baggage claim and customs) on the morning of 2 October 2023

Dr Sean Tobin, A/Director Northern Sydney Public Health Unit, said these locations do not pose an ongoing risk but urged people who may be susceptible to measles and were on the flight or at the International Airport at these times to be alert for symptoms until Wednesday 20 October 2023.

“Those most likely to be susceptible to measles are infants under 12 months of age who are too young to be vaccinated, anyone who is not fully vaccinated against the disease, which may include some adults; and people with a weakened immune system,” Dr Tobin said.

Symptoms of measles include fever, sore eyes, and a cough, followed three or four days later by a red, blotchy, non-itchy, rash spreading from the head and neck to the rest of the body.

“It can take up to 18 days for symptoms to appear after an exposure, so it is really important to stay vigilant if you’ve been exposed, and if you develop symptoms, please call ahead to your GP or emergency department to ensure you do not spend time in the waiting room with other patients,” Dr Tobin said.

Measles is a highly contagious infection which is spread in the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwell with the disease.

Measles remains common in many parts of the world, with large outbreaks currently occurring in a number of locations. Measles cases have also been reported in other states in recent weeks. Given the increase in travel associated with the recent school holidays, it would not be unexpected to see further measles cases in NSW.

The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and effective protection against measles and is included on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for children at 12 and 18 months of age. It is also free in NSW for anyone born during or after 1966 who hasn’t already had two doses.

People who are unsure of whether they have had two doses should get a vaccine, as additional doses are safe. This is particularly important prior to travel. MMR vaccine is available from GPs (all ages) and pharmacies (people over 12 years of age). Children under the age of 12 months can have their MMR vaccine schedule adjusted to receive their first dose earlier if they are travelling to areas considered high risk for measles following consultation with their GP.

For more information on measles, view the measles factsheet.

If you, or a loved one, is experiencing measles symptoms, or have questions about measles, please call your GP or Healthdirect on 1800 022 222.