Measles alert for Perth after three adults from Joondalup caught the disease

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.

Western Australians are being asked to be alert to the risk of measles after three adults caught the disease while visiting the Joondalup Health Campus emergency department (two of these three people are related).

People may have been exposed to the disease on Melbourne Cup day at Ascot and Crown Casino.

The exposure was the result of an earlier confirmed case in an adult who was infected while holidaying in Cambodia, and later presented to the Joondalup Health Campus emergency department for treatment.

People may have been exposed to measles in the following shopping centres between Monday, October 29 and Thursday, November 8.

  • Westfield Whitford City
  • Lakeside Shopping Centre
  • Ocean Keys Shopping Centre
  • Aldi supermarket in Butler.

Additionally, people may have been exposed to measles at the Westfield Carousel shopping centre in Cannington suburbs on Saturday, November 3.

Exposure may also have occurred at Ascot Racecourse and Crown Casino Food Court on Melbourne Cup Day, Tuesday, November 6.

People may have also been exposed to measles at the following medical services on these dates and times:

  • Craigie Medical Centre:
    • Tuesday 30 October between 2.00pm – 3.10pm
    • Friday 2 November between 2.45pm – 4.00pm
  • Padbury Family Practice and co-located pathology service:
    • Friday 2 November between 4.00pm – 5.00pm
    • Saturday 3 November between 10.00am – 11.30am
    • Monday 5 November between 11.10am – 12.45pm and 1.20pm – 2.45pm)
  • Alkimos Beach Medical Centre:
    • Saturday 3 November between 4.30pm – 6.00pm
  • Connolly Drive Medical Centre:
    • Wednesday 7 November between 7.20am – 9.00am

Director of Communicable Diseases Dr Paul Armstrong said public health staff had provided 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.

“Unfortunately, it was not unusual for Australians, especially young adults, to be infected with measles while travelling overseas and to spread the disease to others,” 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, 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 – associated with tourists or WA residents who are infected overseas.

“People planning to travel overseas should make sure they have been appropriately vaccinated against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Anyone who has had a potential exposure to measles, and who develops a fever with other symptoms – including cough, runny nose, sore red eyes and a rash – should consult their doctor. People with measles develop their symptoms approximately 10 days after being exposed to the virus, but this can vary from 7 to 18 days.

Dr Armstrong 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.

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 three or four days later. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

Complications following measles can be serious and include ear infections and pneumonia in about 10 per cent of cases. Around 30 per cent of cases require a hospital admission and about one person in every 1,000 will develop encephalitis, inflammation of the brain.