05 February 2019

Measles advisory Raine Square and Manila to Perth flight

Western Australians are being asked to be alert to the risk of measles following a confirmed case in a person who returned to Perth on 29 January 2019 from the Philippines on a Singapore Airlines flight.

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 from now until the end of February 2019 if they are not immune to measles and attended any of the following:

On Singapore Airlines:

  • Monday 28 January 2019 SQ921 from Manila departing 7:00pm – arriving 10:45pm Singapore
  • Tuesday 29 January 2019 SQ213 from Singapore departing 7:40am – arriving Perth 12:55pm

At Coles, Raine Square, Perth CBD:

  • Late morning Wednesday 30 January 2019

There is no risk of acquiring measles from visiting Perth International Airport or Raine Square outside of these times. It is generally considered safe for non-immune individuals to enter a room 30 minutes after a measles case has left the area.

Public health staff have provided information to people who were exposed to the most recent case where they were known, but it was not possible to identify and specifically warn people who were in public places.

Senior Medical Advisor in Communicable Diseases, Dr Donna Mak said “Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself against measles.” People born during or after 1966 are requested to check that they have had two documented doses of a measles vaccine at some stage in their life, especially if they plan to travel 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. Persons born prior to 1966 are usually immune to measles because they had the illness as a child. Parents are urged to make sure their children receive their measles vaccinations on schedule. Measles vaccine is currently given to children at 12 and 18 months of age.

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

“Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral illness spread by tiny droplets released when infected people cough and sneeze. A person with measles is infectious from four days before, until four days after, the rash appears. 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,” Dr Mak said.  

People with measles typically develop symptoms approximately 10 days after being exposed to the virus, but this can vary from 7 to 21 days. 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.

“Anyone who has had a potential exposure to measles, and who develops a fever with these other symptoms should see a doctor. It is important to call ahead of travelling to a clinic or Emergency Department so that they can be isolated from infecting other patients and staff when they arrive,” she said.

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.

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

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

ENDS

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