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Worker hospitalised after viral infection confirmed at mine site

Fortescue Christmas Creek Iron Ore Mine
Fortescue Christmas Creek Iron Ore Mine

A metal mine is closely monitoring its Western Australian staff after one worker became hospitalised from a highly contagious disease on October 13.

Fortescue Metals Group confirmed one employee was diagnosed with measles at its Christmas Creek Iron Ore Mine, 422km south of Port Hedland. The proponent said its health and safety team has initiated an action plan to inform staff and providing a safe and healthy work environment is its “primary focus”.

“[We] are working with the WA Department of Health to implement all controls needed to limit any spread of the infection,” a spokesperson from the company told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “This person was quarantined in the clinic and departed site via [the] Royal Flying Doctor Service immediately.”

Kiwi was the carrier

The WA Department of Health revealed the worker was first exposed to measles in the southern Perth suburb of Rockingham where he came into contact with an infected visitor from New Zealand.

“One of the latest cases was at a mine site in the Pilbara, following the patient being exposed to measles in the Rockingham region. Upon presenting for medical attention at the mine site, the patient was quickly isolated and transferred to hospital,” the department said in a public statement. “The mine site has issued information to its staff.”

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48 cases recorded

Since January there have been at least 48 cases of measles in WA of which 22 were confirmed since September 30. This compares to just 26 cases recorded in the same period during 2018.

“Complications following measles can be serious and include ear infections and pneumonia in about 10 per cent of cases,” Public Health Physician in Communicable Disease Dr Donna Mak said in a public statement. “Around 30 per cent of cases require a hospital admission and about one person in every 1000 will develop encephalitis, inflammation of the brain.”

Heed the signs

People with measles usually develop symptoms 10 days after being exposed to the virus, including fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes, followed by a red blotchy rash three or four days later. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

Anyone concerned about contracting measles can contact Healthdirect by phoning 1800 022 222.

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