Perth parents are being warned to watch for signs of measles in their children
because of fears four infected people may have spread the highly contagious
disease at several locations, including two hospital emergency departments. The
WA Health Department confirmed late today that a large number of people had
potentially been exposed to the viral illness, including people attending
emergency departments at Princess Margaret and Joondalup hospitals. There was
also a risk the infection had spread at several GP surgeries in the northern
suburbs where the patients were seen, and at schools and clubs they attended.
The known cases are an adult who returned from the Philippines with the disease,
and an unvaccinated chid who was infected in Thailand and then passed the
infection on to his two younger unvaccinated siblings. Complications from the
measles can be very serious, particularly in babies and people with poor immune
systems. Many patients need to be hospitalised and one in 1000 develops
encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny
nose and sore eyes followed by a red blotchy rash about three days later. The
rash usually breaks out on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.
Director of communicable disease Paul Armstrong said public health staff were
contacting people who had been exposed to the virus to provide advice.