Passengers flying from Melbourne to Christchurch exposed to measles

Passengers on a flight from Melbourne to Christchurch last week were exposed to measles, the Canterbury DHB has confirmed.

A person onboard Virgin Australia Flight VA99 on March 19 has the disease and travelled while they were infectious.

That brings the total number of confirmed measles cases in Canterbury to 35.

The flight left Melbourne at 6:35pm (local time) and arrived in Christchurch at 11:35pm last Tuesday. Anyone who travelled on the flight is now being advised to check their immunisation status with their doctor.

Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says any passenger or crew member who is not fully protected from measles should quarantine themselves for the next week, even if they have no symptoms.

This means staying home from school or work and having no contact with unimmunised people for seven to 14 days after the flight.

"They can return to work if they are not unwell on Wednesday 3 April 2019," he says.

People are considered fully protected from measles if they:

  • Have had two doses of the MMR vaccine
  • Have had clinically confirmed measles
  • Were born before 1969

"If you were on this flight and aren't fully immunised against measles, you should also call anyone you have been in the same room with today to let them know that they too have been exposed to measles," Dr Humphrey says. "This new secondary set of contacts will need to remain isolated for 14 days unless they are fully immunised."

Anyone with these symptoms in the next week should call their doctor:

  • Respiratory-type illness with dry cough, runny nose, headache
  • Temperature over 38.5degC, feeling very unwell
  • A red blotchy rash on day four or five of the illness, usually beginning on the face and moving to chest and arms

People at risk from contracting measles should avoid going to their general practice or hospital except when advised by a healthcare professional or in cases of emergency.

Canterbury residents can call their GP after hours and be put in contact with an after-hours nurse, while those outside the region can call Healthline on 0800 611 116.

"If your vaccinations are up-to-date, you will have the best protection available," Dr Humphrey says.

"However, please be aware that general practices are currently prioritising people who have never been vaccinated."