Call for possible measles contacts to come forward

Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora is asking for people who are currently in New Zealand but who travelled in February 2024 on international flights to Melbourne, Australia from Dubai and Singapore, to come forward and contact Healthline immediately on 0800 611 116.

This is in response to Australian health authorities confirming to Health NZ that confirmed measles cases travelled on the following flights:

  • Emirates Airline flight EK408 Dubai to Melbourne: Departed Dubai 14th February at 2.55am, arrived Melbourne 14th February 2024, 10.50pm
  • Singapore Airlines Flight SQ217 Singapore to Melbourne: Departed Singapore 19th February at 11.05am, arrived Melbourne 19th February 2024, 9.40pm

We are asking anyone who travelled on those flights to contact Healthline immediately and to stay home until they receive advice from public health services. Contacts may already be developing symptoms of measles so it is important to contact Healthline urgently.

If they do need to seek healthcare, they should phone ahead and wear a mask.

Signs and symptoms of measles

Measles rash on the back of an affected person.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing. Initial symptoms of measles are similar to other respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 or the common cold.

The illness begins with:

  • fever;
  • cough;
  • runny nose; and
  • sore red eyes (conjunctivitis).

A red blotchy rash also appears on the face and gradually spreads down the body to the arms and legs.

You are infectious from four days before the onset of the rash until four days after the rash appears, so it is possible to transmit the measles infection before you feel unwell.

Symptoms normally take 7 to 14 days to develop after being exposed to someone with measles.

Anyone believing they have been exposed to measles or exhibiting symptoms should not go to the Emergency Department, after hours’ clinic or general practitioner. Instead call Healthline (0800 611 116) or your GP any time 24/7 for free health advice about what to do and where to go if you need to be seen urgently.

Check that you are immune to measles

It is timely to remind people to check if you are immune to measles. You are considered immune to measles if you have had two doses of the MMR vaccine, or lived in New Zealand before 1969. If you are unsure of how many doses of MMR you have had before, for most people it’s safe to get immunised again, says National Public Health Service national clinical director Dr Susan Jack.

“It is especially important if you are travelling overseas to ensure you are up to date with your immunisations.

“New Zealand is at high risk of a measles outbreak so it is important we all do our bit to prevent the spread of measles in our communities and to protect those at higher risk of severe illness. This means ensuring we are vaccinated, being aware of symptoms, and seeking advice if these develop.”

It would be helpful if affected people could also check their immunisation records to share with public health services, by:

My Health Record is a new secure website where most New Zealanders can view their immunisation records, from the year 2005 onwards. In the event of any difficulties, or for records prior to 2005, people should contact their local healthcare provider.

Source: Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora media release (27th February 2024).

Published on Tuesday, February 27th, 2024, under Uncategorised
Page last updated: 28/03/2024

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