Department of Health

Health alert on measles

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is alerting passengers on a flight from Bali to the signs and symptoms of measles, following the confirmed diagnosis of a passenger.

Qantas flight QF44 from Denpasar arrived in Sydney at 6:25am on Saturday, March 10 and the passenger then boarded QF415 - arriving at Tullamarine at 10:35am the same day.

The adult male became unwell after the flight and was hospitalised yesterday, following the confirmation of his illness. He may have been infectious during both these flights.

"We are working with airline officials to identify and contact passengers who shared both the international flight into Sydney and the domestic flight into Melbourne," Public Health Physician Dr Finn Romanes said.

"People who were at Melbourne Airport on Saturday March 10, particularly around the domestic baggage collection area, who develop illness from now until Wednesday April 4 should alert their doctor or hospital emergency department."

"He was also potentially infectious when he visited the Lentil as Anything restaurant at the Abbotsford Convent between 2pm and 3pm on Saturday March 10," Dr Romanes said.

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, Dr Romanes said.

"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 Romanes 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.

Anyone who is unvaccinated is at risk of contracting measles. Adults aged between 26 and 52 have lower immunisation coverage than younger adults and children and therefore most cases are in this age group.

Most people over the age of 52 will have been exposed to measles in childhood, and therefore will be protected.

"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," Dr Romanes said.

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

Reviewed 19 March 2018


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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