Travellers who arrived at Auckland International Airport on Singapore Airlines flight SQ285 from Singapore at 11.45am on February 22 may have been exposed to measles, says the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS).
Medical Officer of Health Dr Michael Hale says passengers in rows 31 to 49 were closest to the measles case and are at highest risk, but anyone on the flight should watch out for symptoms.
Dr Hale says symptoms may appear tomorrow or over the next eight days.
“If anyone who may have been exposed knows they don’t have immunity to measles they can be vaccinated, and that could prevent the symptoms developing,” he says.
The first symptoms are a fever, and one or more of: a runny nose, cough and sore red eyes. After a few days a red blotchy rash develops.
Passengers feeling unwell should telephone their doctor before visiting the practice, or call Healthline on 0800 611-116 for advice.
ARPHS is attempting to contact people seated close to the case. The service is checking whether these passengers are susceptible to measles infection, and offering advice which includes further immunisation, or possibly isolation to avoid spreading the disease.
“Although passengers in rows 31 to 49 are most exposed, there’s a possibility that anyone on the flight, around the flight gate or baggage claim at this time, could have been infected.
“It is very easily transmitted from one person to another, possibly just from walking past the passenger with measles, or while sitting near them in the airport gate lounge,” says Dr Hale.
Measles is a serious illness. One in 10 people with measles need hospital treatment and the most serious cases can result in deafness or swelling of the brain. Dr Hale says measles is infectious before the rash appears and is one of the most infectious airborne diseases.
“The only way to protect from measles and the best way to avoid its complications is to be fully vaccinated. Anyone born before 1969 is likely to be immune to the disease without having had the vaccine."