The New Zealand measles epidemic spreads to Perth and southwest WA

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Health authorities are now investigating suspected cases of measles in Perth and southwest WA as it was revealed that 13 people, including three children, have now been affected by the highly contagious disease.

It is feared that the epidemic, unleashed by a tourist of the infected Kiwi who visited the Rockingham area last month, has now extended further.

The health department's communicable disease control staff is working to trace the places where people diagnosed with measles visited when they were contagious.

Dr. Clare Huppatz, senior medical advisor, said yesterday that the budget has reached 13 years, including three children under 12 months and seven people under 20 years.

"To date, all the cases have been in the Perth metropolitan area. We are investigating suspected cases outside Perth, even in the southwest, "he said.

One of the last confirmed cases is a woman who traveled from 22.20 flight from Auckland to Perth on September 23rd.

Communicable disease experts are now warning other people that they were on Air New Zealand flight NZ 175 on September 23rd to be alerted to the risk of measles developing.

"It is a serious disease in children under the age of 12 months, pregnant women and people who are immune-compromised," said Dr. Huppartz.

He said that one in three people with measles ends up in hospital, one in 10 has complications such as ear infections in the chest and one in 1000 develops brain swelling that can be fatal.

A large outbreak of measles struck in New Zealand, with a total of 1664 people diagnosed with this year.

Two unborn babies died after their mothers contracted the disease.

The New Zealand government has been criticized for not having acted in response to expert calls to increase immunization rates and fill gaps in immunity between adolescents and young adults.

Measles cases increased in Australia this year, with 183 diagnosed this year, compared with 103 cases confirmed in 2018.

Professor David Durrheim, of Newcastle University, said that most cases of measles in Australia come from people who travel abroad to places where the infection is spreading and report it back.

He said the epidemics in New Zealand were "unprecedented" and "were causing a huge impact on their health system".

There have also been large outbreaks in the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Australians aged 20 to 53 traveling abroad are advised to check their measles vaccination history and, if necessary, to get an additional dose.

The WA government has introduced a free measles vaccine for adults under the age of 53 at the start of this year.

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