Measles-infected man sparks warning to Melbourne-bound flight passengers

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Victoria's health department is attempting to contact hundreds of passengers who shared an international flight to Melbourne with a measles-infected man.

A middle-aged Australian man who fell ill on an international flight to Melbourne was infected with measles, potentially exposing scores of fellow passengers.

Victoria's health department issued a warning for all the passengers on the AirAsia flight D7214 from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne on Wednesday morning, after an ailing traveller in his 40s was later diagnosed with measles.

"We are working with airline officials to identify and contact passengers who shared the international flight," deputy chief health officer Brett Sutton said on Tuesday, adding that others people at baggage collection could also be at risk.

It's the second confirmed case of measles in Melbourne this month. In a separate case, a woman who had spent time in Melbourne and different parts of Victoria was infectious between March 3 and March 7. 

Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause serious illness, particularly in very young children and adults.

The symptoms to look out for

The illness usually begins with common cold symptoms such as a runny nose, red eyes and a cough, followed by fever and rash, Dr Sutton 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.

The disease is now uncommon in Australia because of the widespread use of the measles vaccine.

“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.”

Dr Sutton said it was important to continue immunising children because of the risk that infection can be brought in by travellers arriving from overseas.

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.

Source AAP - SBS

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