Perth’s measles outbreak worsens

Stock image.
Stock image.

PEOPLE in Perth are being warned of the risk of contracting measles with the number of confirmed cases rising to 13.

The Department of Health warned anyone who travelled on flight NZ175 from Auckland to Perth on September 23 should be alert.

“While, thus far, the majority of the cases predominantly live in the Rockingham area, the risk of exposure to measles applies to travellers on the NZ175 flight and to other people within the broader metropolitan area who may have unknowingly been exposed,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

“This is because persons with measles are infectious before they become unwell, and often attend a number of public venues prior to being diagnosed.

“Children and adults who are not immune are at risk of developing measles if they are inadvertently exposed. These individuals should remain vigilant for the onset of measles symptoms for the next three weeks.”

Public health staff are in the process of providing information to people who were potentially exposed to the most recent cases where they were known, and will be offering preventative treatment and immunisation as appropriate.

However it is not possible to identify and specifically warn people who were in public places.

Acting Director of the Communicable Disease Control Directorate, Paul Effler, said measles were serious and highly contagious, spread by tiny droplets released when infected people cough and sneeze.

“Every measles case is treated as a public health emergency because of the risk of local spread,” Dr Effler said.

“This includes those most vulnerable to infection, such as infants too young to be vaccinated, those with compromised immune systems and pregnant women who are not already immune through vaccination or previous infection.

“With high vaccination coverage, naturally occurring measles has been eliminated from WA for around 20 years but occasional cases and small outbreaks still occur – usually associated with tourists or WA residents who are infected 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, usually associated with tourists or WA residents who are infected overseas.

People with measles typically develop symptoms about 10 days after being exposed.

Early symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes, followed by a red blotchy rash three or four days later.

Anyone who believed they may have been exposed and who develops a fever and other symptoms should see a doctor.

It is important to call ahead when travelling to a clinic or Emergency Department so the patient can be isolated from infecting other patients and staff when they arrive.