Department of Health

Health alert on measles

27/04/18
Published by Department of Health & Human Services

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

The flight - Qantas QF 36 from Singapore - arrived at Tullamarine on Monday 16 April at approximately 6.40am.

An adult man became ill after the flight, but may have been infectious during the flight and while travelling earlier in Thailand.

Before his diagnosis for measles was made earlier this week he had attended a number of public places.

"We are working with airline officials to identify and contact passengers who shared the international flight into Melbourne," deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton said.

"Unfortunately the notification was made late to the department, so it's only now that passengers are being warned and some may already be showing early symptoms. It's critical that diagnosing doctors and laboratories notify the department as soon as they're aware of cases to enable immediate follow-up.

"People who were at Melbourne Airport on Monday April 16, particularly around the international baggage collection area and shuttle bus pick up area prior to 7.30 am, who develop illness over the next week should alert their doctor or hospital emergency department."

Dr Sutton said the case also attended the Wildcats basketball Stadium located at Eltham High School basketball stadium after 4.45 pm on Saturday, 21 April. The players of all four teams who attended have already been contacted by the school.

Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause serious illness, particularly in very young children and adults. People can develop pneumonia and other serious complications from the disease, and often need to be hospitalised.

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 3-7 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 general practitioner or hospital first and tell them that they may have measles so that appropriate steps can be taken to avoid contact with other patients."

The disease is now uncommon in Australia because of the widespread use of the measles vaccine.

It is important to continue immunising children because of the risk that infection can be brought in by travellers arriving from overseas.

Dr Sutton said most cases of measles in Victoria were linked to international travel, with the disease more prevalent in many countries overseas.

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.

"All adults born during or since 1966 who have not received two doses of measles-containing vaccine should see their GP before travelling overseas, to check their records and get vaccinated. Measles vaccine is not just a childhood vaccine: it's a travel vaccine," Dr Sutton said.

Further information about measles can be found at the Better Health Channel.

Reviewed 27 April 2018

Health.vic

Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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