Department of Health

Measles Alert from Chief Health Officer (Archived content)

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr John Carnie has urged passengers from an Air Asia Flight that arrived in Melbourne on 1 April 2011 to be alert to the signs and symptoms of measles, following the detection of three cases on the flight.

A further suspected case is currently in hospital interstate.

The flight arrived from Kuala Lumpur in Melbourne in the morning on the 1st of April.

 “While all four cases are now recovering, it is possible that there may be others who were infected on the flight” Dr Carnie said.

One case was identified at the Austin Hospital’s emergency department on Thursday, 14 April. Due to its infectious nature and as a precaution, patients who attended the emergency department on Thursday between 9am and 7.30pm are being contacted by hospital staff.

Over ninety per cent of attendees have been telephoned so far, and about half of those have been asked to return this weekend for vaccination.

Dr Carnie said the illness usually begins with common cold symptoms such as fever, sore throat, red eyes and a cough.

“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 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 Carnie said measles is particularly serious in people who are immunocompromised at any age, even if they have had measles or have been immunised against measles. 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 at 4 years of age. Immunisation is the best protection against measles,” he said.

Reviewed 16 April 2011


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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