Measles in WA

Our recently posted Travel Alert after measles in travellers returning from Bali, prompted a comment from someone that only 4 cases in WA hardly seemed worth worrying about. On the surface this would seem like a reasonable observation. However, measles is one of the most contagious respiratory infections and whilst most people recover in 2-3 weeks, it can have severe complications, particularly in children under 12 months who are unable to be vaccinated, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. The state health departments in Australia treat measles cases as a severe threat to public health and go to great lengths to actively seek out anyone who may have come in contact with the person. This could be a large number of individuals and takes into account such things as shopping centres they have been to and planes they have returned on. You don’t have to know the person to be at risk. An example of how quickly measles can spread if there are enough people un-vaccinated and if the local authorities don’t get on top of it quickly enough, can be seen in the ongoing outbreak in Romania. This year so far it has been reported that at least 3446 people have been infected and 17 children have died as a result. A reminder of why we should all ensure our routine vaccinations are up to date, but especially before travelling overseas, where the risk of disease may be higher than it is at home.