BHP mine sites affected by scarlet fever

The South Flank site. Image: BHP

Six cases of scarlet fever have been reported at two BHP iron ore mine sites in the Pilbara, Western Australia.

Three of these originated in each Mining Area C and South Flank.

Of the six, pathology results confirmed one BHP employee has got scarlet fever, with another showing negative. BHP is still awaiting the pathology results from four others, according to a company spokesperson.

Six other workers are quarantined with various throat infection symptoms. These are not confirmed and continue to be monitored.

BHP’s South Flank mine is one of the most expensive mines in development in Australia, boasting a budget of $US3.4 billion ($4.7 billion) and is expected to employ an initial workforce of over 730 people.

Cases of scarlet fever, a bacterial throat infection that can cause sore throat, swollen glands, headaches, skin rash and fever, are relatively rare among adults in Australia.

It can be treated with antibiotics but when left untreated, can contribute to more serious issues such as kidney disease, pneumonia, arthritis and rheumatic fever.

While relatively uncommon in modern times, scarlet fever has seen a widely reported rise in the United Kingdom and certain East Asian countries over the past few years.

Scarlet fever hit its highest level in 50 years in November 2017 in England, according to an article by the UK National Health Service (NHS).