Health Alert: Surge of Measles Cases in Western Australia Blamed on Travel to Philippines

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 25, 2014 11:22 AM EST

Australians planning to travel anytime soon to the Philippines were reminded to take necessary precautions before proceeding to the Southeast Asian country. Western Australia has reported a growing number of measles cases from those who just recently came from the Philippines.

At least 13 cases of measles have been reported in Western Australia since January 2014. Eight of those occurred after having come back from the Philippines.

A measles outbreak occurred in the Philippines in 2013, where more than 1,700 cases were recorded. At least 21 died. While the country has been able to stem the contagious disease, cases have been reported all around the globe, infecting travelers who visited in 2013.

Apart from Australia, cases of measles transmissions have likewise been reported in Canada, the United Kingdom, California, Taiwan and Hawaii, among others.

Video Source: YouTube/ Jack Garland

Spread through coughing and sneezing, measles is a contagious infection. There are a variety of symptoms, including fever, runny nose, inflamed eyes and cough. A red blotchy rash occurs a few days later. Untreated, complications could include brain swelling and pneumonia to ear infections and diarrhoea.

Dr Paul Armstrong, the director of WA Health Communicable Disease Control, urged Australians to be on alert.

"Individuals who have returned from the Philippines, or think they might have been exposed to measles, and who develop symptoms of the disease, should stay away from others and promptly consult their doctor," Mr Armstrong told AAP.

"The patient should mention their possible contact with measles when they call their doctor so that they can be isolated when they arrive at the surgery and prevent the spread of measles to other patients."

Mr Armstrong advised travelers to ensure they get fully vaccinated against measles and other infectious diseases, especially before travelling overseas.

"A person is considered immune to measles if they have received two doses of the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine or were born before 1966," he said.

The latest number of measles cases in Western Australia is the region's highest since 2006.

Video Source: YouTube/ MainMDcom

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