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Ministry Measles Warning

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Ministry Measles Warning

People on a flight from Dubai which arrived in Auckland on January 4 via Melbourne may have been exposed to measles and should call the Ministry of Health's Healthline if they feel unwell, rather than going to a doctor or emergency department.

Australian health authorities advised the New Zealand Ministry of Health a passenger on Emirates EK406, which departed Dubai on January 3, had been confirmed as having measles.

The affected passenger disembarked at Melbourne, but many other people on the flight continued on to Auckland, the health ministry said.

"There are still around 20 people who sat in the rows nearest the infected passenger and whose current locations within New Zealand are unknown," Ministry of Health chief advisor on population health John Holmes said.

Symptoms passengers needed to watch out for were: fever, runny nose, sore eyes, followed about two days later by a red blotchy rash. In some cases people developed further complications such as diarrhoea or a middle ear infection

"If you were on that flight and you detect any of those symptoms call Healthline toll free at any hour of the day or night on 0800 611-116," Dr Holmes said.

Because measles was infectious anyone with symptoms should not go directly to a doctor's office or emergency department, because they might infect other people.

Because of vaccination measles was now rare in New Zealand, although there were three outbreaks in 2009/2010, each started by people who were infected overseas.

"People tend to underestimate measles -- the reality is it can be a nasty disease. One in ten people who catch measles will need to be hospitalised, which tells you this isn't by any means a mild illness.

"Measles can't be easily treated once you get it, so the best way to prevent the disease is through immunisation."

The ministry recommended anyone under 40 who had not had measles in the past, should make sure they had been vaccinated.

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