23 July 2019

Measles alert: Travellers returning from Singapore

Western Australians are being asked to be alert to the risk of measles following a confirmed measles illness in a person who travelled on international flights between Singapore and Perth on 13 July, 2019.

Children and adults who have been inadvertently exposed are at risk of developing measles if they are not already immune. Individuals should remain vigilant for the onset of measles symptoms up until 31 July, if they are not immune to measles and were on the following flights: 

Saturday 13 July:               Scoot Flight TR8 from Singapore to Perth, departing Singapore midday local time, arriving in Perth 1710 

Saturday 13 July:               Scoot Flight TR9 from Perth to Singapore, departing Perth at 1810, arriving Singapore 2330 local time.

People who were on these flights should be alert for signs and symptoms of measles until 31 July, 2019.  There is no risk to those people who were in and around the airport complex and there is no current risk of acquiring measles from visiting the airport, as the potential exposure to measles occurred only on these flights on the dates and times specified.

Communicable Diseases Senior Medical Advisor Dr Clare Huppatz said measles was a serious and highly contagious viral illness spread by tiny droplets released when infected people cough and sneeze.

“People with measles typically develop symptoms approximately 10 days after being exposed to the virus, but this can vary from seven to 18 days,” Dr Huppatz said.

“Early symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes, followed by a red blotchy rash three or four days later. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. 

“Anyone who has had a potential exposure to measles, and who develops a fever with these other symptoms should be tested for measles. It is important to call ahead of travelling to a clinic or Emergency Department so that people with suspected measles can be isolated from infecting other patients and staff when they arrive.”  

Measles is contagious for about four days before and after the development of the rash.  

Children and adults who have been unwittingly exposed are at risk of developing measles if they are not immune.  People are considered immune to measles if they have either had the illness or had two doses of a measles-containing vaccine. 

Persons born prior to 1966 are usually immune to measles because they had the illness as a child. People born during or after 1966 are requested to check that they have had two documented doses of a measles vaccine at some stage in their life, especially if they plan to travel overseas. If they are not sure if they have had two doses of measles vaccine, they should see their doctor for a vaccination before going abroad. 

Parents are urged to make sure their children receive their measles vaccinations on schedule. Measles vaccine is currently given to children at 12 and 18 months of age. 

A new adult measles vaccination program was announced on 26 March for Western Australians born during or after 1966 (under 53 years in 2019) who have not already received two doses of a measles-containing vaccine. Eligible adults can receive this free vaccine from their GP, Aboriginal Medical Service, travel clinic or community health immunisation clinic. 

Complications following measles can be serious and include ear infections and pneumonia in about 10 per cent of cases. Around 30 per cent of cases require a hospital admission and about one person in every 1,000 will develop encephalitis, inflammation of the brain. 

People who are concerned they may have measles and require medical advice after hours can contact Healthdirect on 1800 022 222. 

To learn more about measles, visit the HealthyWA website (external site)


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