Measles exposure on Auckland flight

Last updated 13:23 22/01/2011

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Travellers on an Emirates flight into Auckland from Brisbane may have been exposed to the measles, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has warned.

Three cases of the illness have already been reported among passengers of Emirates Flight EK434, which arrived in Auckland at 5.30pm on January 11. It is the second report of measles being brought into the country on an Emirates flight in a month.

"Measles is a serious illness and one in ten people with measles need hospital treatment," Medical Officer of Health Dr Cathy Pikholz said.

"The three passengers with measles would have been infectious at the time of their travel on this flight.  They were travelling as part of a group who travelled to the Philippines and Singapore. Passengers who were on the flight may now be experiencing symptoms, if they have been infected."

Measles is infectious before the rash appears.

Any passengers on flight EK434 who feel they may be unwell should telephone their GP or call Healthline on 0800 611-116 for advice before seeking treatment because measles is highly infectious and people with the illness can infect others in a waiting room.

"Measles is easily spread through the air, and people sitting in a row close to an affected passenger are potentially at risk.  Even people sitting further away could have been infected, for example, while walking past the passengers with measles, or while waiting in the airport gate lounge.

"People tend to underestimate measles - the reality is it can be a nasty disease," Dr Pikholz said.

TYPICAL MEASLES SYMPTOMS

* A fever, runny nose and sore red eyes.

* After a few days a red blotchy rash comes on and lasts up to a week.  The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

* Children and adults with measles are often very sick.

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