Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is alerting passengers on a flight from Dunedin to Auckland last Tuesday that they may have been exposed to measles.
An Auckland resident flew to Dunedin, but was only infectious on his return flight –
ARPHS Public Health Medicine Specialist, Dr Maria Poynter, says fellow passengers on the flight, plus anyone in domestic terminals in Dunedin or Auckland around the time of the flight, should watch for signs of measles.
Symptoms 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 Poynter says.
Those over 50 years are considered to be immune as the virus circulated widely when they were children.
Measles is a highly infectious airborne disease that spreads easily through the air via coughing and sneezing.
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.
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.
With 298 measles cases in Auckland, the most effective way of bringing the outbreak to an end is to have as many people as possible aged between 12 months and 50 years with at least one MMR vaccination.
“In particular, older teenagers and people in their 20s and 30s need to check that they have had an MMR, because we know that vaccination rates were not as high when these people were younger,” Dr Poynter says.
Under five year olds and young people in particular are being hardest hit, with days off pre-school, school and work. This also affects parents who need to stay home to care for ill or quarantined children.
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 our measles page or the Ministry of Health website