Western Australians have been officially alerted to the threat of measles, after an infected Singapore Airlines passenger disembarked in Perth last Friday and was infectious to others on the flight.
The passenger’s first flight was SQ 633 from Tokyo, arriving in Singapore at about 11pm on 20 October. The passenger then flew from Singapore to Perth on Singapore Airlines flight SQ 225, arriving in Perth around 5.15am on Friday 21 October 2016.
People who were on the above flights, especially those seated around the ill passenger, were potentially exposed and may be at risk of measles, the WA Department of Health has advised.
In addition, people could have been exposed to measles at the following more specific locations in Perth, with dates/times indicated below:
- Friday 21 October, around 5.15am to 6am in the arrival area at Perth Airport international terminal.
- Mead Medical Centre in Forrestfield on Friday 21 October between 11am and 12noon.
- St John of God Pathology collection centre in Forrestfield (adjacent to Mead Medical) on Friday 21 October between 11.20am and 12.30pm.
- Pathwest Collection Centre at Kalamunda Hospital on Monday 24 October between 4.30 and 5pm.
- Jetts 24 Hour Fitness in Forrestfield on Monday 24 October from around 11.30am to 12.40pm.
- Dome café in Kalamunda on Monday 24 October between around 2 to 4pm.
WA Health Medical Epidemiologist Dr Gary Dowse said public health staff had been contacting potentially exposed individuals directly where they were known, but it was not possible to identify and specifically warn people who were in public places.
“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,” Dr Dowse said.
“A person is considered immune to measles if they have previously received two doses of a measles vaccine or were born before 1966.”
Dr Dowse said individuals who developed a fever with other symptoms – including cough, runny nose, sore red eyes and a rash – within two to three weeks of potential exposure to someone with measles, should stay at home and consult their doctor.
“Anyone who thinks they are infected should call ahead and mention their possible contact with measles so they can be isolated when they arrive at the GP surgery or Emergency Department, to prevent infecting other patients and staff,” Dr Dowse said.
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 about three days later. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles infections can be especially severe in infants and people with poor immune systems.
Naturally occurring measles has been eliminated from WA for about 20 years but occasional cases and small outbreaks occur associated with tourists or WA residents who are infected overseas.
People born during or after 1966 should make sure they have had two 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, it does not hurt to have another dose.
Complications following measles can be serious and include ear infections and pneumonia in about 10% of cases. Around 40% of cases require hospitalisation and about one person in every 1000 will develop encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.
People born before 1966 can relax.
Edited by Peter Needham