Measles in metro areas

A WA pharmacy is among several locations recently visited by a person with a newly confirmed case of measles, as new cases are also confirmed in Queensland

WA Health has asked Western Australians to be alert to the risk of measles after another case was confirmed.

A person who visited several public areas in the Perth metropolitan area between Thursday 17 October and Sunday 20 October has been confirmed to have measles.

WA Health has stressed that the case is not related to a recent “cluster” of measles in the Perth area earlier this month, which was believed to have originated with a visitor from New Zealand. Dr Paul Effler, Acting Director of the Communicable Disease Control Directorate, said at the time that the cluster was “unprecedented”.

In the new case, one of the sites visited was the Optimal Pharmacy Plus, at Hamilton Hill Shopping Plaza, from 10.30am to 12 noon on Sunday October 20.

WA Health highlighted that there is a newly funded adult measles immunisation campaign offering two doses of vaccine for all people born from 1966 who are not immunised. Vaccination can be provided by GPs or other usual immunisation providers.

In August 2019, WA Health Minister Roger Cook announced that pharmacists can administer the MMR as well as the dTpa (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) and meningococcal (ACWY) vaccines to people aged 16 years and over.

Meanwhile, Queensland Health issued a measles alert for Brisbane South, with a total of 19 cases confirmed in the area; new cases have come from family groups as well as contacts of previous cases.

Metro South Health public health physician Dr Kari Jarvinen urged Queenslanders to be alert for symptoms and seek medical advice early, especially if they are unaware of their immunity status.

“This current outbreak is a timely reminder to stop and think if you have had two doses of Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine. You may need both or a booster to be protected,” Dr Jarvinen said.

“Measles is very contagious and remains airborne up to 30 minutes after the person has left the room. It is spread by tiny droplets through coughing and sneezing.

“Early symptoms include fever, runny nose, tiredness and sore, red eyes. This is followed by a blotchy red rash, which often starts on the face before becoming widespread.

“Symptoms usually start around seven to 10 days after contact with a person with measles but sometimes longer, so anyone who develops measles-like symptoms within the next fortnight should contact their GP for advice.

“Due to the ongoing increased measles transmission in New Zealand, Samoa, surrounding countries and elsewhere overseas, it is particularly important for travellers who are not immune or unsure to get vaccinated before leaving Australia.

“If people are adequately vaccinated with two recorded doses of the MMR vaccine, they are very unlikely to get the disease. Those who are unsure or have concerns about their immunity to measles should contact their doctor to check whether they have had two doses of the vaccine.”

In April this year, it was also announced that pharmacists would be able to give 16- and 17-year-olds the MMR, among other vaccinations.

In June, the PSA called for a national approach to pharmacist vaccination.

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