Category Archives: Western Australia

WA | Measles contact at Royal Perth and Bentley Hospitals

The Department of Health is alerting people who were at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) on July 3 and 6 or at Bentley Hospital on July 2 and 5, that they may have been exposed to measles.

A person who was at RPH and Bentley Hospitals on these days has been confirmed to have measles. If not immune, exposed people who attended the hospitals on these days could develop symptoms of the disease from now until around July 24.

An unimmunised traveller who was infected while holidaying overseas, and who attended the Emergency Department at RPH on June 21 and 24, was the original source of the infection. That person has also spread measles to two family members and another patient attending the Emergency Department at that time.

Contact associated with the most recent case is believed to be limited, but the necessary precautions are being taken by advising known contacts, including both staff and patients.

Measles is highly infectious to non-immune persons and is spread by airborne respiratory droplets. The incubation period is usually 10–14 days but may be up to 18 days. Clinical illness from measles usually begins as fever, cough, runny nose and sneezing and conjunctivitis (red, sore eyes), before the characteristic blotchy red rash appears after about 3 to 4 days. Measles is infectious up to five days before the rash appears, and usually for about 4 days after appearance of the rash.

Measles can be a serious illness, especially in young children and other vulnerable people. Around 50% of cases may require hospitalisation, and complications include pneumonia and encephalitis.

People who have not been vaccinated against measles or have received only one dose of vaccine may still be susceptible to infection. About 99 per cent of people who receive the recommended course of two vaccinations will be immune to measles. People born before 1966 have a high probability of being immune through prior natural infection.

Naturally occurring measles has been eliminated from WA since 1999, but occasional cases and small outbreaks occur associated with tourists or WA residents returning from overseas.

A family of five unimmunised children also recently acquired measles from an unknown source in WA. These incidents are a reminder of the importance for all Western Australians to be fully vaccinated against measles and other infectious diseases, including when travelling overseas.

People who think they may have measles should stay at home and not go to public places. If they need to attend a GP or hospital they should phone ahead so that precautions can be taken to ensure they do not sit in waiting rooms and clinical areas where they may infect other patients and staff.

Further information regarding measles is available at www.public.health.wa.gov.au

WA | 11th case of meningococcal infection

The Department of Health today reported that an elderly person was recently diagnosed with meningococcal disease and is making a good recovery.

Meningococcal disease is an uncommon, life-threatening illness due to a bacterial infection of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain.

The Department of Health has identified the person’s close contacts and provided them with information, and, where appropriate, antibiotics that minimise the chance that the organism might be passed on to others.

Meningococcal bacteria are carried harmlessly in the back of the nose and throat by about 10–20 per cent of the population at any one time. Very rarely, the bacteria invade the bloodstream and cause serious infections.

Meningococcal bacteria are not easily spread from person-to-person. The bacterium is present in droplets discharged from the nose and throat when coughing or sneezing, but is not spread by saliva and does not survive more than a few seconds in the environment.

Invasive meningococcal infection is most common in babies and young children, older teenagers and young adults, but infection can occur at any age.

Symptoms may include high fever, chills, headache, neck stiffness, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, and severe muscle and joint pains. Young children may not complain of symptoms, so fever, pale or blotchy complexion, vomiting, lethargy (blank staring, floppiness, inactivity, hard to wake, or poor feeding) and rash are important signs.

Sometimes—but not always—symptoms may be accompanied by the appearance of a spotty red-purple rash that looks like small bleeding points beneath the skin or bruises.

Although treatable with antibiotics, the infection can progress very rapidly, so it is important that anyone experiencing these symptoms seeks medical attention promptly. With appropriate treatment, most people make a good recovery.

The incidence of meningococcal disease has decreased significantly in WA over the past decade, with around 20 to 25 cases reported each year—down from a peak of 86 cases in 2000.

There were 16 cases notified in 2013, the lowest number recorded in more than 20 years. Eleven cases have been reported to date in 2014.

A vaccine to protect against the C type of meningococcal disease, which in the past was responsible for around 15 per cent of cases in WA, is provided free to children at 12 months of age.

Western Australia | St John Ambulance receives $340K donation from BHP Billiton Iron Ore

St John Ambulance recently secured more than $340,000 from BHP Billiton Iron Ore for important works that will benefit the ambulance service and the community.

The funding includes $210,000 for a new emergency support vehicle, radio communications upgrade, training equipment and other upgrades at the Port Hedland Sub Centre.

An additional $130,000 will go to the Newman Sub Branch for an equipment servicing vehicle, six Automatic External Defibrillators (AED), communications equipment and first aid training courses in remote indigenous communities.

St John North West Regional Manager Wil White thanked BHP Billiton Iron Ore for its support.

“We are grateful that BHP Billiton Iron Ore has provided us with this generous donation to upgrade our facilities and equipment,” he said.

“These grants will significantly improve ambulance response capability and patient health outcomes in the Pilbara region.”

Mr White said increased first aid training in remote indigenous communities would have a positive impact in these areas.

“St John will be able to provide these communities with essential skills and equipment to help in a medical emergency,” he said.

The six new AEDs will be installed in public areas in Newman and will be linked with the St John Community First Responder (CFR) system.

In the event of a cardiac arrest, a CFR will be alerted when a triple zero (000) emergency call is made and the closest AED can then be made available to provide potentially life-saving defibrillation.

Western Australia | Time to get vaccinated as flu season picks up

Western Australians being reminded that it’s not too late to get the influenza vaccine with the flu season yet to peak.

Dr Paul Effler from WA Health’s Communicable Disease Control said the number of influenza cases is beginning to rise, signalling that flu season will likely be upon us in the next few weeks.

“The Eastern states have already seen a higher number of cases than at the same time last year and here visits to GPs for flu illness are rising,” Dr Effler said.

“These warning signs are a reminder for people who want to be protected that they should get the vaccine sooner rather than later as it can take up to two weeks for the body to build up good immunity.

“The protection from the flu vaccine lasts about a year, so even if you were vaccinated last year you’ll need to have it again to remain protected.”

Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills, muscle aches, tiredness and vomiting. In severe cases, it can result in complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia and can lead to hospitalisation—or even death.

“Influenza can be a serious illness, particularly for the elderly, pregnant women and persons with underlying medical conditions. People in these groups should take advantage of the opportunity to protect themselves by getting vaccinated now,” Dr Effler said.

Parents are also being encouraged to get their young children immunised against flu. Children who catch influenza can develop serious complications including high fever, convulsions, and pneumonia.

The vaccine is free to a number of eligible at-risk groups including young children, Aboriginal people aged 15 years and older, pregnant women, people aged 65 years and older and those with chronic medical conditions.

Some private providers may charge a fee to administer the flu vaccine and people are advised to discuss this with their doctor or immunisation clinic when making an appointment.

Western Australia | Tenth meningococcal case in WA

The Department of Health today reported that an older teenager had been diagnosed with meningococcal disease and has now been discharged from hospital.

Meningococcal disease is an uncommon, life-threatening illness due to a bacterial infection of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain.

The Department of Health has identified the person’s close contacts and provided them with information, and, where appropriate, antibiotics that minimise the chance that the organism might be passed on to others.

Meningococcal bacteria are carried harmlessly in the back of the nose and throat by about 10–20 per cent of the population at any one time. Very rarely, the bacteria invade the bloodstream and cause serious infections.

Meningococcal bacteria are not easily spread from person-to-person. The bacterium is present in droplets discharged from the nose and throat when coughing or sneezing, but is not spread by saliva and does not survive more than a few seconds in the environment.

Invasive meningococcal infection is most common in babies and young children, older teenagers and young adults.

Symptoms may include high fever, chills, headache, neck stiffness, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, and severe muscle and joint pains. Young children may not complain of symptoms, so fever, pale or blotchy complexion, vomiting, lethargy (blank staring, floppiness, inactivity, hard to wake, or poor feeding) and rash are important signs.

Sometimes—but not always—symptoms may be accompanied by the appearance of a spotty red-purple rash that looks like small bleeding points beneath the skin or bruises.

Although treatable with antibiotics, the infection can progress very rapidly, so it is important that anyone experiencing these symptoms seeks medical attention promptly. With appropriate treatment, most people make a good recovery.

The incidence of meningococcal disease has decreased significantly in WA over the past decade, with around 20 to 25 cases reported each year—down from a peak of 86 cases in 2000.

There were 16 cases notified in 2013, the lowest number recorded in more than 20 years. This is the tenth case reported to date in 2014.

A vaccine to protect against the C type of meningococcal disease, which in the past was responsible for around 15 per cent of cases in WA, is provided free to children at 12 months of age.

WA | Get ready now for bad weather from Wongan Hills to Southern Cross to Esperance

Sunday 6 July 2014 – 4:01 PM

If you live southwest of a line from Wongan Hills to Southern Cross to Esperance you need to get ready now for the bad weather coming tomorrow morning.

This includes people in near or between York, Southern Cross, Esperance, Narrogin, Katanning, Albany, Bridgetown, Margaret River, Busselton, Bunbury, Mandurah, the Perth metropolitan area and surrounding areas.

This type of weather only occurs once or twice a year and could cause major damage to homes and make travel dangerous.

The warning for parts of WA southwest of a line from Gingin to Hyden to Esperance for SUNDAY has been cancelled.

WHAT TO DO:
DFES has these tips to help you and your family get ready now:

  • Store or weigh down loose objects around your home like outdoor furniture that could be picked up and thrown by strong winds, causing damage or injury
  • Ensure your emergency kit is complete including a battery operated radio, torch, spare batteries and first aid kit
  • Ensure pets and animals are in a safe area
  • Move vehicles under cover
  • Boat owners should securely moor their boats
  • Campers should find safe shelter away from trees, powerlines, storm water drains and streams

If you are away from home contact family or friends to prepare your property

WEATHER DETAILS:
As at 3.32pm on 6 July 2014 the Bureau of Meteorology advises the cold front moving over the south of the State during SUNDAY has weakened, however another strong cold front will affect the southwest of the State during MONDAY.

The weather system on MONDAY is likely to cause WIDESPREAD DAMAGING WINDS to 100 kilometres per hour that could result in DAMAGE TO HOMES AND PROPERTY.

In isolated areas DANGEROUS GUSTS in excess of 125 kilometres per hour could cause SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE OR DESTRUCTION TO HOMES AND PROPERTY.

DAMAGING WINDS are likely to develop southwest of a line Bunbury to Walpole between 6am and 8am Monday morning and extend to southwest of a line Perth metropolitan to Albany after 10am Monday morning, then extend to the remainder of the warning area during Monday afternoon.

Thunderstorms, hail and local flooding are also possible.

IMPORTANT NUMBERS:

  • If your home has been badly damaged by a storm call the SES on 132 500
  • In a life threatening situation call 000
  • For the latest weather information visit www.bom.gov.au or call 1300 659 213

After a storm State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers make temporary repairs to homes that have been badly damaged, such as roofs that have been ripped off or large fallen trees on homes and cars. Please contact your insurance company to organise permanent repairs.

KEEP UP TO DATE:
Visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au, call 13 DFES (13 3337), follow DFES on Twitter @dfes_wa or listen to news bulletins.

Western Australia | Bushfire ADVICE for 50 km north of Sandfire Roadhouse

Friday 27 June 2014 – 3:20 PM

A bushfire ADVICE remains for people travelling along Great Northern Highway, 50 kilometres north of the Sandfire Roadhouse in the Shire of Broome.

• There is no threat to lives or homes but there is a lot of smoke in the area.
• Although there is no immediate danger you need to be aware and keep up to date in case the situation changes.
• The fire started along Great Northern Highway and is currently burning in Anna Plains Station.

BUSHFIRE BEHAVIOUR:
• The bushfire is moving slowly in a north westerly direction.
• The bushfire is out of control and unpredictable.

WHAT TO DO:
• Be extremely careful when driving through the area.
• Turn your headlights on and drive slowly.
• Watch for emergency services personnel and follow their directions.
• If you cannot see clearly, pull over, keep your headlights and hazard lights on, and wait until the smoke clears.
• If you have a respiratory condition and you have been affected by smoke you should contact your local doctor or call Health Direct on 1800 022 222.

ROAD CLOSURES:
Avoid the area and be aware of fire and other emergency services personnel working on site.

Road information may also be available from Main Roads WA by calling 138 138 or visiting www.mainroads.wa.gov.au.

WHAT FIREFIGHTERS ARE DOING:
Fire crews are monitoring the situation. Anna Plains Station pastoralists are undertaking work to contain the fire.

EXTRA INFORMATION:
• The incident was reported at 11.15am on Thursday 27 June 2014.
• The cause of the fire is accidental, and was started by a truck fire.

KEEP UP TO DATE:
Visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au, call 13 DFES (13 3337), follow DFES on Twitter @dfes_wa or listen to news bulletins.

The next update will be provided by 11am Saturday 28 June 2014 unless the situation changes.

Western Australia | Look out for arsonists in the Kimberley this bushfire season

A recent rise in suspicious bushfires in the Kimberley region has prompted a reminder to the public to keep a look out for suspicious activity and report it to authorities.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Kimberley Superintendent Grant Pipe said deliberately lit bushfires can pose a significant threat to life and property and place an unnecessary burden on our emergency services.
“We have seen a recent increase in suspicious or deliberately lit bushfires in the Kimberley region,” Superintendent Pipe said.
“Deliberately lit bushfires this time of year in the Kimberley can spread quickly and engulf thousands of hectares, making it challenging for emergency services and land managers to minimise their impact on communities.”
“The work of just one arsonist can threaten lives, destroy homes and direct resources away from other emergencies.”
WA Police Superintendent Mick Sutherland said it is often members of the public who first notice the suspicious behaviour of potential arsonists.
“Arson is a serious crime that poses a significant threat to the community with severe penalties applicable to anyone who wilfully starts a fire,” Superintendent Sutherland said.
“If you have observed a person or vehicle behaving suspiciously near an area where a bushfire occurred, record the details as accurately as possible and call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”
“Information from the community is vital to successfully identifying arsonists and to help reduce the number of incidents of arson.”

A reward of up to $50,000 is available for information leading to the identification and conviction of people deliberately lighting fires in Western Australia.
The lighting of fires is a significant crime in Western Australia and attracts a penalty of up to $250,000 and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Western Australia | Firefighters accept Government’s wage offer

The United Firefighters Union of Western Australia has this morning informed the State Government that its members have voted to accept a wage increase offer of 2.75 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent over three years. 

Approximately 1,126 firefighters will be covered by the new agreement, which caps wage increases in line with Treasury forecasts for Perth’s Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Commerce Minister Michael Mischin said he was pleased that another negotiation had been settled in line with the Government’s wages policy.

“Given the financial challenges facing this State, it is imperative that negotiations deliver outcomes that are economically sustainable for the Government and the community,” Mr Mischin said.

“Last week, the WA Police Union agreed to our offer and I am pleased that the United Firefighters Union has taken a similar approach with negotiations.

“These increases will maintain WA firefighters as among the best paid in the nation.”

Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said the wage deal was a win for common sense and financial responsibility.

“This outcome is fair and reasonable and I commend the stance taken by our State’s firefighters who play such an important role in protecting our community,” Mr Francis said.

Western Australia | St John to unveil new emergency response trailer

St John Ambulance’s ability to respond to natural disasters and major incidents in the Goldfields will be significantly enhanced by a new emergency response trailer set to be unveiled in Kalgoorlie-Boulder on Saturday.

The trailer, which will be towed behind a four-wheel-drive ambulance, will act as a mobile command centre and allow paramedics to operate in a more coordinated capacity in regional and remote areas.

St John Ambulance Regional Manager Andrew Hirst said the trailer will boost paramedics’ preparedness to assist at major incidents such as car crashes, remote train derailments and natural disasters.

“There have been several incidents in recent years, such as the 2010 Boulder earthquake, which have prompted proactive measures to ensure we are fully prepared in the event of a major accident or disaster,” Mr Hirst said.

“The emergency response trailer gives our paramedics easier access to supplies and communication equipment that is needed to provide thorough and comprehensive assistance at mass casualty scenes.

“Additionally, it provides the capacity to react faster and more efficiently, while remaining self-reliant for longer.”

The $48,000 trailer, which will also serve as an important emergency training tool, was jointly funded by St John Ambulance, the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Aurizon, Brookfield Rail and local Rotary Clubs.

With four separate rail networks running through Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Mr Hirst said the emergency response trailer was a particularly valuable asset in being prepared for any incidents within the rail corridor.

“The emergency trailer is equipped to improve the quality of emergency care received by the Goldfields community as well as people travelling to and from Kalgoorlie,” he said.

“We now have the capacity to treat an increased number of patients at one time and over long distances to any location in the Goldfields.”