30 January 2020

New measles alert for Perth

Western Australians are being alerted to the risk of measles following a confirmed measles case in a person who visited several places in Perth over the past week.

The Health Department’s Acting Director of Communicable Disease Control, Dr Clare Huppatz, said people without measles immunity needed to be vigilant for the onset of symptoms if they visited: 

  • Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital between Wednesday 22 January and Friday 24 January
  • Coffee Biz, Lion’s Eye Institute Foyer Nedlands on Thursday 23 January at lunchtime
  • Coffee Anatomy, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Nedlands on Friday 24 January at lunchtime
  • Spices supermarket Hampden Rd Nedlands on Saturday January 25 around lunchtime
  • Woolworths, Reynolds Rd Mt Pleasant on Sunday 26 January 2020 between 11.00am and 11.45am
  • Terry White Chemist, Monash Ave, Nedlands on Tuesday 28 January between 10.00am and 10.45am
  • Hollywood Newsagency in Hampden Rd, Nedlands on Tuesday 28 January between 3.00pm and 3.45pm.

Dr Huppatz said there was no current or ongoing risk of acquiring measles from visiting these venues – potential exposure to measles was confined to the dates and times specified.

Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral illness which is spread when infected people cough or sneeze. Being in the same room – in or soon after – someone with measles can result in infection in people who are not immune.

Symptoms typically develop seven to 18 days after exposure and 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. About 10 per cent of cases will develop ear infections and/or pneumonia, approximately one in five will require hospital admission and one in 1,000 will develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

Dr Huppatz urged Western Australians to ensure their measles immunisations were up to date and that children received measles vaccinations on schedule – at 12 and 18 months.

“Western Australians born before 1966 are usually immune to measles because they had the illness as children,” she said. 

“People born from 1966 onwards, however, and who would be aged in their 30s or older, may need a Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) booster vaccination because they are likely to have received only a single dose of vaccine due to the recommendation at the time.

“Two doses of MMR are now known to be required for optimal immunity,” Dr Huppatz said.

People born from 1966 onwards who are not immunised are encouraged to take advantage of an adult measles immunisation campaign which is offering two free doses of vaccine. These are available from GPs or usual immunisation providers.

To prevent spread of measles, anybody who thinks they might have the disease should call ahead to their clinic or Emergency Department so they can be isolated from other patients and staff on arrival.

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

To learn more about measles, visit the HealthyWA website (external site).


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