Measles alert for Butler, Alkimos and other metropolitan places

Three adults recently contracted measles while visiting the Joondalup Health Campus emergency department. File picture

PEOPLE who visited a Butler supermarket in the past fortnight, an Alkimos medical centre on November 3, Ascot racecourse on Melbourne Cup day and other metropolitan places need to be alert to the risk of measles.

The Department of Health is asking Western Australians to be alert to the risk of measles, following three recently confirmed adults who contracted the disease while visiting the Joondalup Health Campus emergency department.

A department spokeswoman said two of the three persons were related.

She said 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 at Westfield Whitford City, Lakeside Shopping Centre, Ocean Keys Shopping Centre and Aldi supermarket in Butler between Monday, October 29 and Thursday, November 8:

Additionally, people may have been exposed to measles at the Westfield Carousel shopping centre 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, October 30 between 2pm to 3.10pm
    • Friday, November 2 between 2.45pm to 4pm
  • Padbury Family Practice and co-located pathology service:
    • Friday, November 2 between 4pm to 5pm,
    • Saturday, November 3 between 10am to 11.30am,
    • Monday, November 5 between 11.10am to 12.45pm and 1.20pm to 2.45pm,
  • Alkimos Beach Medical Centre:
    • Saturday, November 3 between 4.30pm to 6pm,
  • Connolly Drive Medical Centre:
    • Wednesday, November 7 between 7.20am to 9am.

Communicable diseases director 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.

Dr Armstrong said it was not unusual for Australians, especially young adults, to be infected with measles while travelling overseas and to spread the disease to others.

“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,’’ he said.

“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 about 10 days after being exposed to the virus, but this can vary from seven 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.’’

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.

About 30 per cent of cases require a hospital admission and about one person in every 1000 will develop encephalitis, inflammation of the brain.

Measles vaccine is given to children at 12 and 18 months of age. People born during or after 1966 should make sure 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 been vaccinated in the past, they should see their doctor for a dose before they leave.

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