12 Jul 2019

Third confirmed case of measles in a week

12:17 pm on 12 July 2019

Plane passengers who flew out of Auckland last Sunday are being warned they may have been exposed to measles.

An illustration of the highly contagious measles virus.

A person who flew on an Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to New Plymouth last Sunday has been confirmed to have had measles. Photo: AFP / nobeastsofierce / Science Photo Library

Measles spreads easily through the air via coughing and sneezing, and can take a fortnight for symptoms to show.

Auckland Regional Public Health service said a person - who has since been confirmed as having measles - flew on an Air New Zealand flight NZ5307 from Auckland to New Plymouth at 10am on Sunday.

The service's clinical director, Dr Julia Peters, said anyone who might have been in Auckland domestic terminal's departure area, on the same flight, or in the New Plymouth arrivals area that morning should watch for signs of measles.

Dr Peters said those symptoms include a high fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes.

Those who may have been exposed and are unsure if they're immune and been to those locations or who start developing symptoms are being told to call their doctor or call Healthline.

One dose of the vaccine will prevent measles in 95 percent of people, while two doses will protect 99 percent of people.

It is the third measles case that has been confirmed this week - all involving plane passengers.

On Monday, passengers were told be wary of symptoms after an infected person visited Auckland and Wellington on a Jetstar flight - JQ263 - on 1 July.

The Wellington Regional Public Health Service said that the person also visited a central Wellington cafe, Midnight Espresso, the following day between 4pm and 9pm.

On Tuesday this week, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service said a person with the contagious disease was on Emirates flight EK450 from Bali which landed in Auckland at 4.20am on 4 July.

People seated in economy class near the back of the plane and those at airport arrivals about the same time may be at risk if not immune, it said.

Measles facts:

  • Measles is a highly infectious viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing.
  • People are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash to five days after the rash starts.
  • Infected persons should stay in isolation - staying home from school or work - during this time.
  • The best protection from measles is to have two MMR vaccinations. MMR is available from your family practice and is free to eligible persons.
  • People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.
  • Anyone believing they have been exposed to measles or exhibiting symptoms, should not go to the ED or after hours' clinic or general practitioner. Instead, call the GP first.

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