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Auckland Measles Alert Issued for Kuala Lumpur Flight Passengers

Posted in: Auckland,

By Suausi Vienna Richards                  vienna.richards@pmn.co.nz

A measles alert has been issued in the Auckland region for travellers who arrived at Auckland International Airport from Kuala Lumpur a week ago on a late night Malaysian Airlines Flight MH133.

The Malaysian Airlines flight arrived on Sunday 15 April at 11pm.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) have been contacting passengers seated close to the person infected with measles. In addition, the public health agency is taking the precaution of advising all travellers on the flight to check their immunity to measles. 

Dr Josephine Herman, ARPHS Medical Officer of Health, says although anyone  who was seated in rows 28 to 44 is most exposed, there is a chance that other travellers may have been infected at the departure gate, the baggage claim area and on the plane.

"The airborne measles virus is very easily transmitted from one person to another, so those on the flight should watch for symptoms from now until 29 April," says Dr Herman. 

Symptoms include a fever, runny nose, cough or sore red eyes, followed by raised red rash.  Anyone feeling unwell from the flight is advised to call their doctor before visiting the clinic to reduce the risk of infecting other people who may be in the clinic waiting rooms. 

Dr Herman suggests New Zealanders catch up on their MMR vaccinations before they travel overseas. 

This latest measles alert follows another one issued in February after a confirmed cases of measles from Singapore on a Singapore Airlines flight.

"The only way to protect from measles and the best way to avoid its complications is to be fully vaccinated with two doses of the MMR vaccine," Dr Herman says.

People most at risk of contracting the disease are those who have not had the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, or who have just had one dose of the MMR vaccine. 

Anyone born before 1969 is likely to be immune to the disease.  

If I Think I Have Symptoms but I’m not sure or I can’t reach my doctor?

Contact 24/7 Healthline 0800 611-116

The 0800 Healthline is staffed by nurses ready to provide advice to callers.

What You Need to Know about Measles

  • Measles is highly contagious illness. It is a serious illness with a serious impact once you're infected with it.
  • Fever, and one or more of a runny nose, cough or sore red eyes

The time delay from being exposed to measles to developing symptoms is usually 8 -14 days but can be up to 21 days.

After a few days, a red raised rash comes on and lasts up to one week. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

One in 10 people with measles need hospital treatment and the most serious cases can result in deafness or swelling of the brain (encephalitis).

Outbreaks in the Region and Global

The New Zealand government’s SafeTravel website advises a number of countries overseas continue to have measles outbreaks, including parts of Europe, Asia (particularly the Philippines, Vietnam, India and China), Africa and Chile.

Closer to home, measles outbreaks Pacific in parts of Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia, as well as in New Zealand.

Tags: Measles,