Tweed schools and daycare centres on rubella alert
THE Northern River's low vaccination rates are to blame for the current rubella outbreak, according to NSW Health.
The North Coast Public Health Unit has released a rubella alert to all schools, childcare centres and family daycare centres in the Northern Rivers after five confirmed cases in the Richmond Valley and Lismore.
North Coast Public Health Director Paul Corben has urged the community to be cautious about the infectious viral disease - commonly known as German measles.
While there have been no confirmed diagnoses in the Tweed, Mr Corben said the virus can spread quickly when infected people travel around.
"About half of the people infected have no noticeable symptoms," Mr Corben said.
"It can be very mild in some people but they can still pass it on to others."
Mr Corben said the vaccination program for measles, mumps and rubella is 99% effective, when enough people are vaccinated.
"The Northern Rivers has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Australia," Mr Corben said.
"Anyone who isn't vaccinated is susceptible."
He says symptoms of rubella may take two to three weeks to appear.
These symptoms can include a rash, mild fever, runny nose and conjunctivitis.
Rubella is particularly dangerous for pregnant women in their first trimester.
Mr Corben said when women are infected during this time of pregnancy, their babies have a 90% chance of developing Congenital Rubella Syndrome.
"This can lead to a range of conditions," Mr Corben said.
"It can cause intellectual disabilities, deafness or blindness."
Mr Corben said people should be diligent to help prevent the further spread of rubella.
"If you think you have rubella, ring your GP beforehand so they can accommodate for you without putting others at risk," Mr Corben said.
"The simplest way to prevent the disease is to make sure you and your whole family are vaccinated."