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19 December 2013

Measles warning issued for passengers on Jakarta – Perth flight

Passengers on a flight from Jakarta to Perth last Sunday may have been exposed to measles, WA Health warned today.

The warning to passengers on Garuda flight GA724 on 15 December comes after a passenger was confirmed to have been infectious with the disease.

Dr Paul Armstrong, Director of Communicable Disease Control, said measles was highly contagious among people who were not fully immunised.

"Measles is highly infectious and is spread through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms can include fever, tiredness, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes which usually last for several days before a red, blotchy rash appears. Complications can range from an ear infection and diarrhoea to pneumonia or swelling of the brain," Dr Armstrong said.

Dr Armstrong said people aged up to 47 years who have not received two doses of measles vaccine were particularly susceptible to measles, however, those born before 1966 were usually immune because they had measles during childhood.

"The local public health units are contacting passengers who were seated closest to the infected passenger and are most at risk. Passengers seated elsewhere on the plane may have been exposed to the virus and should also be alert for symptoms."

"Passengers who develop these symptoms should seek medical attention, but it is important they phone ahead first to ensure they don’t share the waiting area with other patients and risk infecting them," Dr Armstrong said.

Susceptible passengers who may have been exposed to measles on this flight could expect symptoms to appear any time between 22 December and 2 January.

The passenger also attended a number of sites in Perth while infectious on 16 December, including Kings Park, the grounds of UWA, Forrest Chase in Perth City, Willetton and Nedlands. Although the risk of infection is lower, people who were in these areas on that day should also be alert for symptoms.

Dr Armstrong said children should receive two doses of measles vaccine at 12 and 18 months of age.

Flight details

Airline: Garuda Airlines
Flight number: GA724
Departure location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Departure Date/Time: Sunday, 15/12/2013, 11:00am

More information on measles is available on the Healthy WA website

Media contact: (08) 9222 4333

Follow us on Twitter: @WAHealth

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