Perth on alert after six measles cases in past week

People are again being warned about a measles outbreak in Perth. Picture: iStock.
People are again being warned about a measles outbreak in Perth. Picture: iStock.

SIX people have been infected by measles in Perth over the past week prompting the Health Department to issue an alert.

So far this year 22 people have contracted measles, up from 16 cases in 2017.

There have now been eleven measles cases confirmed in WA residents since the end of July.

The people were infected following contact with other recent cases who brought their infections in from overseas, including at a workplace and in a hospital emergency department.

As these cases visited numerous public places in Perth while they were infectious, a number of other people have potentially been exposed to measles and may develop the highly contagious illness.

Director Communicable Disease Control Dr Paul Armstrong said public health staff had been providing information to people who were potentially exposed, but it was not possible to identify and specifically warn people who were in public places.

The previous five cases were infected while travelling overseas in Bali and the Philippines. Most of the recent cases have been young adults.

“With high vaccination coverage, naturally occurring measles has been eliminated from WA for around 20 years, but occasional cases occur in tourists or WA residents who are infected overseas. Unfortunately, some lead to small outbreaks,” Dr Armstrong said.

“Every measles case is treated as a public health emergency because of the risk of local spread – including to those most vulnerable to infection such as infants too young to be vaccinated, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.”

Early symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes, followed by a red blotchy rash about three days later. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.