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Foothills measles alert

HEALTH authorities are warning people they may have been exposed to measles at public places in Kalamunda and Forrestfield last month.

It follows a confirmed diagnosis in a passenger who was infected during a holiday in Japan. People could have been exposed at the Mead Medical Centre in Forrestfield, St John of God Pathology collection centre in Forrestfield, Pathwest Collection Centre at Kalamunda Hospital, Dome Café in Kalamunda and Jetts 24 Hour Fitness in Forrestfield between October 21 and 24.

WA Health Medical Epidemiologist Gary Dowse said public health staff had been contacting potentially exposed individuals directly where they were known, but it was impossible 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,” he said.

“Children and adults who have been unwittingly exposed are at risk of developing measles if they are not immune.

“A person is considered immune to measles if they have previously received two doses of a measles vaccine or were born before 1966.”

Complications from measles can be serious and include ear infections and pneumonia in about 10 per cent of cases. Around 40 per cent of cases require hospitalisation and one in every 1000 will develop encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

Dr Dowse said people 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,” he said.

Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral illness spread by tiny droplets released when infected people cough and sneeze.

Naturally occurring measles has been eliminated from WA for about 20 years but occasional cases and small outbreaks occur with tourists or WA residents who are infected overseas.

The man was infectious to others on the flight home to Perth. The passenger’s first flight was from Tokyo to Singapore on October 20 followed by a flight from Singapore to Perth on Singapore Airlines on October 21. People who were on the above flights, especially those seated around the ill passenger, were potentially exposed and may be at risk of measles.

About Sarah Brookes

Sarah is an award-winning journalist (2016 WA Media Awards - Best Three Suburban Newspaper Stories) who has covered our Mundaring and Kalamunda editions since 2011. She went to Eastern Hills Senior High School before studying chemistry and biology at university. Staring down a microscope two years into her degree she realised a future in science wasn’t for her – journalism was. Sarah lived in Europe before re-settling in Darlington, where her family has lived for three generations, with her two children. She has worked for various government agencies and Media Monitors. Sarah is a media junkie who loves talkback radio and devours the weekend papers.

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