Measles warning issued for South West tourist town of Busselton

Staff reportersBusselton-Dunsborough Times
Measles Mumps Rubella Vaccine Vials.
Camera IconMeasles Mumps Rubella Vaccine Vials. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Residents and visitors to Busselton have been warned to be on the watch for symptoms of measles after an infectious patient visited four public venues in the seaside town.

The warning from WA Country Health Service listed the affected locations as Busselton shopping precinct on July 5 in the late afternoon, Busselton Post Office on Prince Street on the same day and about the same time, Discount Pharmacy on Kent Street on July 5 and July 7 in the late afternoons and Woolworths Busselton on Kent Street on July 6 in the late afternoon.

With the incubation period for measles, anyone who has contracted the illness is likely to show symptoms between July 12 and 25.

According to the WA Country Health Service’s Dr Tania Wallace, measles is a serious and highly contagious viral illness that spreads when infected people cough and sneeze.

“Being in the same room around the same time as someone with measles can result in infection in people who are not immune,” he said.

“People with measles typically develop symptoms approximately 10 to 18 days after exposure.

“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,” she added.

Dr Wallace said complications following measles can be serious and include ear infections and pneumonia in about 10 per cent of cases.

“Around one in every five people will require hospital admission and about one person in every 1,000 will develop encephalitis - inflammation of the brain,” she said.

Dr Wallace said the WA Country Health Service was urging parents to make sure their children receive their measles vaccinations on schedule.

People born during or after 1966 are also requested to check that 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 had two doses of measles vaccine, they should see their doctor for a vaccination before going abroad.

There is also a newly funded adult measles immunisation campaign offering two doses of vaccine for all people born from 1966 who are not immunised. Vaccinations can be provided by your GP or your usual immunisation provider.

Dr Wallace said 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, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.

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

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

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