Measles warning for Dapto Mall shoppers

File picture.

File picture.

Shoppers who recently visited Dapto Mall are being warned they may have come in contact with a store worker with measles.

The Illawarra Shoalhaven Public Health Unit issued the measles alert on Wednesday night after the store worker was diagnosed with the highly infectious illness  on Wednesday afternoon.

The unit would not name the store ‘‘for privacy reasons’’ but said  shoppers who visited Dapto Mall may have come into contact with the worker on Monday, or last week on Wednesday or Thursday.

Health unit acting director Diane Lovatt said that while the general risk of infection was low, shoppers at the centre on those days who were not vaccinated against the illness or those at risk of infection should go to their doctor if they felt unwell or were concerned.

She said doctors in the area were being notified about the case.

‘‘People who are not immunised against measles, young children, pregnant women and those in our community who are immuno-compromised who attended Dapto Mall on those days should see their GP immediately if they are concerned about their immunity or risk,’’ Ms Lovatt said.

‘‘The Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine is part of the childhood immunisation schedule given at 12 months and 18 months (previously four years) and almost everyone who gets two doses of the vaccine will be protected for life.’’

Ms Lovatt said people born in or before 1965 were usually immune because they had measles in childhood.

However many people in their 20s, 30s and 40s had not had two vaccines and were more susceptible. 

High school students may also be at risk, with the NSW Health Department only last month launching a MMR high school-based catch-up program due to the growing number of students being diagnosed with measles since 2010.

In 2012 there were 172 measles notifications in NSW, a significant increase from 90 in 2011 and 26 in 2010. 

And from January to April 2014, 14 teenagers/young adults contracted measles from overseas and brought the infection back to NSW.

The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District confirmed on Thursday that the MMR vaccine was being offered to 10 of the region’s schools, selected due to lower rates of vaccinations recorded in their areas.

‘‘Children that don’t attend one of the selected high schools can still receive the free vaccine from their doctor,’’ an ISLHD spokeswoman said.

Measles is a highly infectious virus causing fever, cough and a rash. One in 15 children with measles develops pneumonia and one in 1000 develops encephalitis (brain inflammation).