Hospital measles alert
Hospital measles alert

Health authorities are warning people who were at two Perth hospitals last week they may be at risk of measles, after confirming at least three people have been infected from an overseas traveller.

The WA Health Department says a person now confirmed to have measles was at Royal Perth Hospital on July 3 and 6 and Bentley Hospital on July 2 and 5, potentially exposing other people to the highly infectious disease.

If not immune, those people could develop symptoms of the disease from now until about July 24.

The department said the unimmunised traveller, who was infected while holidaying overseas, attended RPH’s emergency department on June 21 and 24 and was the original source of the infection.

That person had also spread measles to two family members and another patient attending the emergency department at that time.

Necessary precautions were being taken by advising any known contacts, including staff and patients.

The department also confirmed that a family of five unimmunised children also recently contracted measles from an unknown source in WA.

It said the recent cases were a reminder of the importance for all West Australians to be fully vaccinated against measles and other infectious diseases, including when travelling overseas.

Measles is highly infectious to people who are not immune and is spread by airborne respiratory droplets. The incubation period is usually 10-14 days but may be up to 18 days.

Symptoms usually begins as fever, cough, runny nose and sneezing and conjunctivitis before the characteristic blotchy red rash appears after about three or four days.
People are infectious up to five days before the rash appears and for about four days after appearance of the rash.

Measles can be a serious illness, especially in young children, with complications including pneumonia and encephalitis.

The department said people who think they may have measles should stay at home and not go to public places.

If they need to attend a GP or hospital they should phone ahead so precautions can be taken to ensure they do not infect other patients and staff.

The West Australian

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