Measles alert for South West

Photo: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
Photo: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

Western Australians are being asked to be alert to the risk of measles following a confirmed measles illness in a person who visited four public venues in Busselton last week.

Children and adults who have been inadvertently exposed are at risk of developing measles if they are not already immune.

Individuals should remain vigilant for the onset of measles symptoms during the period July 12 to 25, 2019 if they attended:

  • Busselton shopping precinct on July 5, 2019 in the late afternoon
  • Busselton Post Office on Prince Street on July 5, 2019 in the late afternoon
  • Discount Pharmacy on Kent Street on Friday July, 5 and Sunday, July 7 in the late afternoon
  • Woolworths Busselton on Kent Street on Saturday July 6 in the late afternoon.

According to the WA Country Health Service's Dr Tania Wallace, measles is a serious and highly contagious viral illness that spreads when infected people cough and sneeze.

"Being in the same room around the same time as someone with measles can result in infection in people who are not immune," she said.

"People with measles typically develop symptoms approximately 10 to 18 days after exposure.

"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."

Dr Wallace said complications following measles can be serious and include ear infections and pneumonia in about 10 per cent of cases.

"Around one in every five people will require hospital admission and about one person in every 1,000 will develop encephalitis - inflammation of the brain," she said.

Dr Wallace said the WA Country Health Service was urging parents to make sure their children receive their measles vaccinations on schedule.

People born during or after 1966 are also requested to check that they have had two documented doses of a measles vaccine at some stage in their life, especially before travelling overseas.

If they are not sure if they have had two doses of measles vaccine, they should see their doctor for a vaccination before going abroad.

There is also a newly funded adult measles immunisation campaign offering two doses of vaccine for all people born from 1966 who are not immunised.

Vaccinations can be provided by your GP or your usual immunisation provider.

Dr Wallace 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.

"With high vaccination coverage, naturally occurring measles has been eliminated from WA for around 20 years, but occasional cases and small outbreaks occur, sparked by residents or visitors who were infected overseas," she said.

People who are concerned they may have measles and require medical advice after hours can contact Healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

For further information, visit the HealthyWA website (external site).