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WA measles spike prompts vaccine reminder

AAP logoAAP 21/12/2016 Rebecca Gredley

A spike in measles cases in unvaccinated children in Western Australia has prompted calls for parents to make sure their immunisations are up to date.

There were no measles cases in WA in the first half of the year, but there have been seven cases since July.

Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral illness spread by tiny droplets released when infected people cough and sneeze, and begins with a fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes, followed by a red blotchy rash about three days later.

WA Health communicable disease physician Donna Mak said the increase was concerning, and cases had also increased in under-immunised adults.

"Measles is contagious for about four days before and after the development of the rash," Dr Mak said.

"Children and adults who have been inadvertently exposed are at risk of developing measles if they are not immune."

People are considered immune if they have received two doses of the measles vaccine or were born before 1966.

Dr Mak said anyone who developed symptoms within two to three weeks of potential exposure to someone with measles should isolate themselves from others and arrange to see their family GP.

Complications following measles can be serious and include ear infections and pneumonia in about 10 per cent of cases.

Around 40 per cent of cases require hospitalisation and about one person in every 1000 will develop encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

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