Department of Health

Health alert on measles

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is alerting passengers from an international flight from Jakarta to Melbourne to the signs and symptoms of measles, following the confirmed diagnosis of a case from the flight.

The flight - Garuda Indonesia flight GA 716 - departed Jakarta 23.55 pm on Friday, 12 May 2017 and arrived at Tullamarine at 9.20 am on Saturday, 13 May 2017.

A three-year-old unvaccinated child was admitted with the illness on Saturday, 20 May 2017 and is recovering in hospital.

Due to its infectious nature, and as a precaution, passengers on this flight should be alert to the symptoms of the disease.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton said the illness usually begins with common cold symptoms such as runny nose, red eyes and a cough, followed by fever and rash.

'The characteristic measles rash usually begins 3 to 7 days after the first symptoms, generally starting on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body,' he said.

'Anyone developing symptoms is advised to ring ahead to their GP or hospital first and tell them that they have fever and a rash.

'If you know you have been in contact with a measles case please alert your GP or hospital emergency department. The GP or hospital will then be able to provide treatment in a way that minimises the possibility of transmission to others.

'Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause serious illness, particularly in very young children and adults. People with measles are often hospitalised.

'Pneumonia and other serious complications can result from the disease.'

Anyone who is unvaccinated is at risk of contracting measles. Adults aged between 26 and 42 years have a lower immunisation coverage than younger adults and children and therefore most cases are in this age group. Most people over the age of 42 will have been exposed to measles in childhood, and therefore will be protected.

Dr Sutton said measles is particularly serious in people who are immunocompromised at any age. This includes people who are undergoing cancer treatment or are on high-dose steroids.

'The measles vaccine is currently recommended on the National Immunisation Program at 12 months and again at 18 months. Immunisation is the best protection against measles,' he said.

Most cases of measles in Victoria are linked to international travel, with the disease more prevalent in many countries overseas, especially in Bali at present. People most likely to develop the illness are unvaccinated people who have travelled overseas, or unvaccinated people who have been in contact with them on their return.

Reviewed 22 May 2017


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Tim Vainoras Media Advisor

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