Australian province hit by measles epidemic

A measles epidemic in the Australian province of New South Wales has prompted local health officials in Sydney to establish a series of immunization clinics.

Experts said that the recent outbreak is the worst the region has seen in the last 14 years and are urging residents to ensure that they are properly vaccinated against the highly contagious illness, according to

NSW Health said that a total of 145 cases have been confirmed so far in the state, with 54 cases diagnosed in September alone.

NSW Health Protection Director Jeremy McAnulty said the outbreak has spread to the Illawara area of Sydney after its confirmation in the capital's south and southwest. McAnulty said people need to protect themselves by taking advantage of free vaccine clinics.

"While measles vaccine is free from your GP, we are hoping that the special clinics will encourage people who haven't been vaccinated to do so now," McAnulty said, reports.

Brian Owler, the president of the Australian Medical Association, reiterated the call for vaccinations and pointed out the threat the illness poses.

"It's easy to forget that in decades past, measles and its complications led to the deaths of hundreds of Australians, it was once more deadly than polio," Owler said, reports.