Residents in Western Australia are being asked to be alert to the risk of measles following a confirmed measles illness in a person who visited two public venues in Perth last week.
The WA Department of Health issued an urgent alert on Wednesday after confirming a case of the illness in a person who visited the Perth Zoo and the IKEA store at Innaloo.
The department said people who visited Perth Zoo on January 1, or Perth’s IKEA store at lunchtime on January 2, should remain vigilant to the onset of measles symptoms which could develop in the coming fortnight.
The patient had no recent history of travel overseas and is believed to have acquired their measles infection in WA’s South West.
Children and adults who had been inadvertently exposed were at risk of developing measles if they were not already immune.
Director of Communicable Diseases Paul Armstrong said public health staff had provided information to people who were exposed to the recent case where they were known.
“Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral illness spread by tiny droplets released when infected people cough and sneeze,” Armstrong 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, those with compromised immune systems and pregnant women who are not already immune through vaccination or previous infection.”
Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause serious illness, particularly in very young children and adults. Meanwhile, older people who weren’t vaccinated against measles and didn’t have it as a child are also at risk, particularly because a case of measles can lead to more serious illnesses, including shingles and pneumonia.
Common measles symptoms include fever, lethargy, runny nose, moist cough and sore and red eyes, with a red, splotchy rash that appears after the infectious period has passed.
“Anyone who has had a potential exposure to measles, and who develops a fever with these other symptoms should see a doctor,” he added.
The outbreak comes after health authorities in South Australia were also notified of a 21-year-old woman who contracted the illness.
SA Health’s Communicable Disease Control Branch Director, Louise Flood, said in a statement that the woman had household contact with another confirmed case and is now recovering.
“The household contacts of the recent case who are susceptible to measles have been in isolation, so there is no risk of infection to the public,” Flood said.