Measles Risk From Perth Airline Flight

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The Department of Health has today confirmed measles in a passenger who arrived in Perth aboard a Royal Brunei Airlines flight from Thailand on 1 October.

The passenger also attended funeral services held on Friday 3 October before developing a measles rash the following day.

Medical Coordinator Communicable Disease Control Dr Paul Effler said measles was contagious for up to five days before the development of the rash and passengers on the same flights and those at the funeral service may be at risk of developing measles if they were not immune.

"A person is considered immune to measles if they have received two doses of the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine or were born before 1966," he said.

"People who attended the funeral held at 2pm Friday 3 October in the auditorium of Winthrop Baptist College in Murdoch, followed by a burial service at Fremantle Cemetery and a reception at Mount Pleasant Uniting Church, and are not immune to measles, should contact the South Metropolitan Public Health Unit at 9431 0200 as soon as possible (after hours contact Health Direct at 1800 022 222).

"They will determine if the individual might benefit from receiving immune globulin (IG), which, if given early, can prevent or lessen the severity of measles infection.

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"This is especially important for infants, unimmunised pregnant women, and people with poor immune systems."

The Department is attempting to contact those passengers on Royal Brunei Airways flight BI516 departing Thailand on 30 September and connecting Flight BI76 departing Brunei on 1 October who are at greatest risk of developing measles because of their age or seating arrangements.

Dr Effler said it was important that all people on these flights and those who attended the funeral services be aware of the possibility of measles illness.

"Individuals who develop a fever and cough or runny nose in the next several weeks should stay at home and promptly consult their GP," he said.

"The patient should mention their possible contact with measles when they call so they can be isolated when they arrive at the surgery and prevent the potential spread of measles to other patients."

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that can cause serious disease. Early symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes followed by a red blotchy rash about three days later, starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body.

Complications following measles can be very serious and may include ear infections and pneumonia in about one in every 25 cases. About one person in every 2,000 will develop encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

All children who have not been vaccinated against measles should be considered at risk of getting measles. The first measles vaccination is usually given at 12 months followed by a second dose at four years.

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