The infected person spent several hours at Melbourne airport.
The infected person spent several hours at Melbourne airport.

Measles case on Jetstar, Virgin flights

ANOTHER case of measles has been diagnosed in Victoria, this time for a person who spent several hours at Melbourne Airport.

Health authorities say the illness was acquired overseas and the affected person was in transit through Melbourne Airport for several hours on Tuesday, March 19.

Victoria's chief health officer, Dr Brett Sutton, said the case was unrelated to any of the eight previous measles cases notified to the health department this year.

In the most recent case, the affected person travelled on Jetstar flight JQ517 from Sydney to Melbourne and was at Melbourne Airport terminals two and four from 3.30pm until 7pm.

The person also boarded Virgin Australia flight VA99 from Melbourne to Christchurch between 6.35pm and 11.35pm.

Dr Sutton said anyone who was unvaccinated was at the highest risk of contracting measles.

"People need to have received two doses of measles-containing vaccine to be fully protected. Many adults have only received one vaccine against measles, and therefore most cases are in this age group," he said.

Most people born before 1966 will have been exposed to measles in childhood and will therefore be protected.

The infected person was on a Jetstar flight from Sydney to Melbourne on Tuesday, March 19.
The infected person was on a Jetstar flight from Sydney to Melbourne on Tuesday, March 19.

However, adults born in or after 1966 may be susceptible, especially if overseas travel is planned, and should go to their doctor for a free vaccination.

"There is a lot of measles circulating in our region currently, including much of southeast and southern Asia. All travellers need to be aware of this risk," Dr Sutton said.

Just two weeks ago, a Sydney resident developed measles a few days after returning home from the Philippines.

The man in his 30s required hospitalisation for his symptoms but is no longer infectious and recovering at home.

Earlier this month, NSW Health issued an urgent warning about measles over fears a young woman and baby were spreading the disease.

The woman, who arrived in Sydney from Bali on Qantas flight QF44 about 6.30am on February 21, visited the international airport and Opera House as well as the Langham Hotel on Kent St in Sydney.

The baby, who was too young to be vaccinated, developed the disease after arriving home from the Philippines.

After a layover in Melbourne, the person then flew on a Virgin flight to Christchurch.
After a layover in Melbourne, the person then flew on a Virgin flight to Christchurch.

Measles symptoms include fever, sore eyes and a cough followed by a red, blotchy rash on the head and neck that spreads to the rest of the body.

"If you develop symptoms, please call ahead to your GP so you do not wait in the waiting room with other patients," NSW Health director Vicky Sheppeard said.

Measles is highly contagious and is spread in the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwell with the disease.

Cases of measles had soared worldwide because of complacency by parents who were not vaccinating their children, UNICEF said.

Australia is at high risk of importing measles due to outbreaks of the disease in southeast Asia.