New measles alert issued for Melbourne, Victoria

Picture: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
Picture: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Health authorities have issued a measles warning for people who visited Melbourne Airport last Wednesday after a passenger on an international flight fell ill with the highly infectious disease.

The man, an Australian aged in his 40s, was on AirAsia flight D7214 from Kuala Lumpur, which arrived at Melbourne Airport on the morning of March 7.

He fell ill during the flight and was diagnosed with measles at hospital after landing.

People who were on that flight or at the airport that day are advised to watch for the symptoms of the disease.

"People who were at Melbourne Airport last Wednesday particularly around the international baggage collection area, who develop illness over the next week should alert their doctor or hospital emergency department,” deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton said.

Measles can cause serious illness, especially in very young children and adults.

The virus can cause serious complications, such as pneumonia, and people often need to be hospitalised.

Common first symptoms include a runny nose, red eyes and a cough, followed by a rash and fever.

"The characteristic measles rash usually begins 3-7 days after the first symptoms, generally starting on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body," Dr Sutton said.

"Anyone developing symptoms is advised to ring ahead to their general practitioner or hospital first and tell them that they may have measles so that appropriate steps can be taken to avoid contact with other patients."

An alert was also issued last week after it was discovered a woman infected with measles had visited a number of busy locations across Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road between March 3 and 7, including Flinders Street Station, St Kilda Beach and Philip Island.

Measles is uncommon in Australia because of vaccination, and most cases in Victoria are linked to international travel.

Most cases occur among those aged 26 to 52 because they have lower immunisation coverage than younger adults and children, while older adults are better protected after being exposed to the virus in childhood.

Anyone who is unvaccinated is at risk of contracting measles.

For more information, visit the Better Health Channel.