West Australians heading to Bali are being urged to make sure they have been vaccinated against measles, following a recent surge of cases contracted on the island.
WA Health Department medical epidemiologist Gary Dowse said measles infection had been confirmed in four adults, who were from different travelling parties, after they returned to WA from Bali in the past fortnight.
Most other Australian states had also reported cases in Bali travellers in the past few weeks.
“Unfortunately, it is not unusual for Australians to be infected with measles overseas, including in Bali, but the increase in the number of cases in the past month suggests there may be a significant measles outbreak currently underway in Bali,” Dr Dowse said.
“There have been more than 20 separate importations of measles from Bali to WA since 2013, including six already this year, which is more than for any other overseas travel destination.
“The first Bali cases this year were in two children who had not been vaccinated, which led to an outbreak with four people being infected in WA, three at a local hospital in January.”
Dr Dowse said high vaccination coverage meant naturally occurring measles had been eliminated from WA for about 20 years but occasional cases and small outbreaks still occurred, mostly associated with tourists or WA residents who were infected overseas.
Every imported measles case was treated as a public health emergency because of the risk of local spread, including to those most vulnerable to infection such as infants too young to be vaccinated, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.
Travellers returning from Bali or other countries who developed a fever with other symptoms including cough, runny nose, sore red eyes and a rash – within two to three weeks of returning home – should consult their doctor. They should phone ahead before going to their GP clinic.