A WA traveller returning from the Philippines has triggered a public health emergency alert after contracting the highly contagious measles virus.
The public is being warned they may have been exposed to the potentially deadly virus at a host of locations around Perth including the Perth International Airport, Royal Perth Hospital and Lucky Chan’s restaurant.
Every imported 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.
Medical advisor Dr Paul Effler said it was unfortunate it was not unusual for Australians, especially young adults, to be infected with measles overseas.
“With high vaccination coverage, naturally occurring measles has been eliminated from WA for around 20 years, but occasional cases and small outbreaks still occur – associated with tourists or WA residents who are infected overseas,” Dr Effler said.
He said public health staff had also been providing information to people who were potentially exposed to the most recent cases where they were known, but it was not possible to identify and specifically warn people who were in public places.
Travellers returning from overseas, particularly Southeast Asia who developed a fever with other symptoms – including cough, runny nose, sore red eyes and a rash – within three weeks of returning home, should consult their doctor.
Dr Effler said anyone who thinks they might have measles should call ahead so that they can be isolated when they arrive at the GP surgery or emergency department, to prevent infecting other patients and staff.
“Measles is contagious for about four days before and after the development of the rash. Children and adults who have been unwittingly exposed are at risk of developing measles if they are not immune,” he said.
Western Australians heading overseas are being reminded to make sure they have been appropriately vaccinated against measles.
People may have been exposed to the most recent case at the following locations in Perth:
Friday, July 20:
Flight SQ 215 from Singapore to Perth.
Saturday, July 21:
Perth International Airport arrivals, midnight to 1am
Royal Perth Hospital Emergency Department, 10.30am to 5.30pm
Lucky Chans in Northbridge, 7pm to 8pm
Rosemount Hotel to watch Kimbra, 8pm until midnight
Saturday, July 21 to Sunday, July 22 (overnight):
Seasons of Perth Hotel – Perth
Sunday 22 July:
Halo restaurant in South Perth 10am to 11.30am
Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral illness spread by tiny droplets released when infected people cough and sneeze.
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.