Unvaccinated travellers bring deadly diseases back to Australia

Published: 03 May 2017


Australian tourists returning home from Bali make up almost half of all cases of dengue fever and rabies in New South Wales, new data has shown.

Up to 400 NSW patients catch dengue fever – a potentially deadly disease spread by mosquitos – each year, with about half picking up the disease in Bali.

Close to 303 NSW patients were affected by rabies in 2015, and close to half of those cases originated in Indonesia, mainly from Bali.

The health department told News Corp travellers were ignoring rabies warnings overseas.

“Figures for 2016 have not yet been finalised but the trend appears to be continuing despite warning to travellers to avoid dogs and monkeys while overseas,” a spokesperson said.

It comes months after a measles outbreak affected more than 20 people in Western Sydney, which was believed to have also come from Bali.

The figures come as Health Minister Brad Hazzard slammed parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, warning their decision was risking similar outbreaks.

“We need to recognise we’re a very lucky continent – we’re on an island,” he said.

“We have greater capacity than almost anybody to be able to draw the vaccination curtains around us and keep us safe. But some people, who are either not vaccinated or not vaccinated adequately, travel overseas and bring back a disease the rest of us shouldn’t be exposed to.”

“People need to understand that by failing to vaccinate their children they are exposing them to the very real risks of death or disability,” he said.