Thursday, October 27, 2016

Measles on a Plane

An individual contagious with measles flew on Singapore Airlines, instigating an alert to be made in Western Australia.  The patient flew from Tokyo, Japan to Perth, Australia via Singapore while contagious.  In addition to the airports and planes involved, the patient had stopped at a fitness center, café, and the hospital, so people in those places could have also been exposed.  The Western Australian health officials were working to track down those people, but they further detailed the difficulty of finding all of who could have been involved, especially at common spaces such as a café (Outbreak News Today).  The reason for such concern, especially on airplanes, is that measles is extraordinarily contagious and, so much so, in fact, “that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected” (CDC - Transmission).

Measles virus is a human virus that is a member of the Paramyxoviridae family (Enders).  It is transmitted respiratorily and “can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed” (CDC - Transmission), but can also be transmitted via an infected fomite.  Its symptoms typically begin with a fever, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes.  In a couple of days, the well-known measles rash develops and the fever peaks, both of which disappear in a matter of days (CDC - Signs & Symptoms).  During this time, an individual is contagious for around 4 days before and after the rash appears.  In addition to being very contagious, measles is a concern due to its complications, which could involve pneumonia and encephalitis (Outbreak News Today).  

- Devon Z.

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