The Global Indian

Measles alert on Brisbane-Auckland flight

(Photo: Dave Haygarth)

Passengers flying from Brisbane to Auckland on 23 February on an Air New Zealand flight may have been exposed to measles, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) advises.

ARPHS has reported two measles cases who were passengers on Flight NZ136 leaving Brisbane at 11:15am on Sunday 23 February.

These passengers would have been infectious at the time of their travel on this flight, says Medical Officer of Health Dr Richard Hoskins.

It usually takes 10 to 14 days for measles to start showing any symptoms. Anyone on this flight who may have caught measles should be starting to feel unwell, if they’re not already, by Sunday 9 March, a statement from the health service says.

“Passengers who sat nearest the two cases have the highest risk and are our priority,” says Dr Hoskins, “and will be contacted by their local public health service. However because measles is an infectious, airborne disease, we want all passengers to be vigilant.”

Measles symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a rash that starts on the face and neck before spreading elsewhere.

Any passengers from this flight who feel unwell should phone their GP or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice. It is vitally important to call first before seeing a doctor because measles is highly infectious, and people with measles can infect others in the waiting room.

New Zealand has experienced measles outbreaks very recently.

There have been 57 measles cases in Auckland so far this year. Nine of these caught measles overseas and brought it home with them. A similar measles outbreak in the year 2011-12 had nearly 500 people affected and 82 required hospitalisation.

Measles is a serious illness, says Dr Hoskins, and there is no treatment. “The only way to avoid catching measles is to have had two measles vaccines after your first birthday. Please check with your GP to see if you and your family are protected.”