Measles exposure on flights

Published: Fri 13 Dec 2019 12:48 PM
Regional Public Health (RPH) is asking passengers on the flights listed below to check if they have been immunised for measles;
- Air New Zealand flight NZ959; Apia to Auckland. Departing Apia on 6/12/19 at 22:17pm and arriving in Auckland at 01:20am on Saturday 7th December
- Air New Zealand flight NZ445; Auckland to Wellington. Departing Auckland at 17:00pm and arriving in Wellington at 18:23pm on Saturday 7th December
The passenger did not know they were in the early infectious stage of measles while on the flights.
RPH Medical Officer of Health, Dr Annette Nesdale, says fellow passengers, plus anyone in the Auckland international or domestic terminal or the Wellington domestic terminal around the time of these flights, should also watch for signs of measles.
It takes 7-14 days to start experiencing symptoms which include a high fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes. A few days later a rash starts on the face and neck, before spreading to the rest of the body.
"You are most at risk if you’re not immune to measles, either because you haven’t been vaccinated or you haven’t had the disease previously. People who are not immune may start experiencing symptoms over the next week," Dr Nesdale says.
Anyone over the age of 50 years is considered immune as they would have been exposed to the virus as a child. Other passengers can check their Well Child or Plunket book for at least one measles mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination.
If you were on the flight and are unsure whether you’re immune to measles, talk to your doctor or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.
Measles is a highly infectious airborne disease that spreads easily through the air via coughing and sneezing. If you do start to develop symptoms that could be measles, also contact your doctor. Be sure to call ahead to prevent potentially infecting others in the waiting room.
Vaccination with the MMR offers the best protection against measles. One dose will prevent measles in 95 per cent of people, while having two doses will protect 99 per cent of people who have the vaccine.
For more information about measles, visit the Regional Public Health website and the Ministry of Health website.

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