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Plane passengers exposed to measles on flight VA99 19 March

Plane passengers exposed to measles on flight VA99 from Melbourne to Christchurch on Tuesday 19 March 2019

A passenger arriving in Christchurch on Virgin Australia Flight number VA99 from Melbourne has been confirmed as having measles, adding to the cumulative total of 35 confirmed cases for Canterbury.

This person travelled while infectious, and the Canterbury Community and Public Health team wants to alert all passengers and crew on this flight that they have been exposed to measles:

• Virgin Australia Flight VA99 left Melbourne at 6.35pm local time and arrived in Christchurch at 11.35pm NZ Standard time on 19 March.

Anyone who travelled on this flight who isn’t sure they have been fully immunised should check their immunisation status with their General Practice team/family doctor. You are only fully protected if you have had two doses of the MMR vaccine, had clinically confirmed measles, or if you were born before 1969. Any passenger or crew on VA99 on the 19th March who is not fully protected should stay at home and remain isolated from Tuesday 26 March until Tuesday 2 April 2019. They can return to work if they are not unwell on Wednesday 3 April 2019. 2019.

Dr Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health says people from the flight who may have measles should stay in self-imposed isolation from Tuesday 26 Marchuntil Tuesday 2 April 2019 (7-14 days after your contact with measles).

Anyone who becomes unwell with the follow symptoms over the next week should phone their doctor for advice:
o A respiratory type of illness with dry cough, runny nose, headache
o Temperature over 38.5 C and feeling very unwell
o A red blotchy rash starts on day 4-5 of the illness usually on the face and moves to the chest and arms.

At risk passengers from this flight should not go to their general practice or to the hospital unless it is an emergency or they are advised to do so by a doctor or nurse as they will infect more people. In Canterbury you can call your own GP team after hours and be put through to a nurse who can provide advice at any time of day or night – or people from outside Canterbury and living elsewhere in New Zealand can call Healthline on 0800 611 116.

Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health says people are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash to five days after the rash starts. Contacts should stay in isolation from 7 to 14 days from exposure, which is when they could transmit the disease.

“This means staying home from school or work and having no contact with unimmunised people. ”

Measles Facts
• Measles is a highly infectious viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing
• Symptoms of measles include:
o A respiratory type of illness with dry cough, runny nose, headache
o Temperature over 38.5 C and feeling very unwell
o A red blotchy rash starts on day 4-5 of the illness usually on the face and moves to the chest and arms.
• 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 your GP any time, 24/7 for free health advice.

More information about measles is available at https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/measles or the New Zealand Immunisation Advisory Centre.

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