Bali tourist sparks health alert after being hospitalised with measles

A tourist returning from Bali has triggered a health alert in Western Australian after officials discovered the traveller had visited a hotel and shops while infected with measles.

The Department of Health issued a statewide alert on Wednesday after the tourist, who has not been named, was admitted to a Perth hospital with the highly infectious disease.

Health officials are now scrambling to track down anyone potentially exposed after it was revealed the tourist spent time in the Perth and Midwest regions while infectious.

Camera IconA tourist returning from Bali has triggered a health alert in Western Australian. NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

Acting director of communicable diseases Jelena Maticevic said public health staff were contacting people who might be exposed.

“Measles is a highly contagious viral illness and anyone who has had a potential exposure to measles and who develops symptoms of measles should see a doctor,” Dr Maticevic said.

A list of exposure sites was released by the department on Wednesday, with visitors urged to monitor for symptoms despite there being no “ongoing risk” at the locations.

The locations listed by the Department of Health are:

  • Royal Mail Hotel, Meekatharra – Main St, Meekatharra – September 3, 5.45pm to 8pm
  • Spud shed Kelmscott – 2853 Albany Hwy, Kelmscott, – September 11, 12.15pm to 1.15pm
  • Bunnings Armadale – corner Ranford Rd and Armadale Rd – September 11, 12.45pm to 1.30pm

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness spread by tiny droplets released when infected people cough and sneeze, with early symptoms including fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes.

Dr Jelena Maticevic. Picture: LinkedIn
Camera IconDr Jelena Maticevic says anyone who develops symptoms of measles should see a doctor. LinkedIn Credit: NCA NewsWire

That is usually followed by a red non-itchy rash three or four days later that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Symptoms typically show within seven to 18 days after exposure.

While high vaccine coverage helped eliminate measles in Australia 25 years ago, health officials warned small outbreaks could still occur – usually sparked by overseas travellers returning home.

Numerous countries are currently experiencing outbreaks of the measles, with travellers who do not have immunity at risk of infection while overseas and potentially returning home with it.

Doctor, nurse, scientist hand in blue gloves holding flu, measles, coronavirus, covid-19 vaccine
Camera IconHigh vaccine coverage helped eliminate measles in Australia 25 years ago. Supplied Credit: istock

In July, the NSW government issued a public health alert after a tourist returning from overseas visited several locations in Sydney, including Rose Bay and Randwick, while infected.

Every measles case is treated as a potential public health emergency by health officials nationwide because of the risk the illness could spread locally and the potentially severe nature of the disease.

In most states, anyone born after 1965 who does not have evidence of receiving two doses in the past and is over 16 can access government-funded measles vaccine from their GP or at pharmacies.

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