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Passengers On Plane Warned About Measles Outbreak

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Passengers on a flight from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Melbourne, Australia, have been put on alert after a small child on board was hospitalized with the measles.

Those who flew on Garuda Indonesia flight GA716 on May 13 have been advised to pay attention to their symptoms and to see a doctor immediately should they develop a fever followed by a rash, according to via the New York Post.

A toddler contracted the highly-contagious disease while in Indonesia and possibly spread it to other passengers while on the plane.

"Anyone developing symptoms is advised to ring ahead to their general practitioner or hospital first and tell them that they have a fever and a rash,” said Deputy Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton in a statement.

"If you know you have been in contact with a measles case, please alert your GP or hospital emergency department," Sutton said. He also told medical staff to be prepared for additional care in relation to the incident.

“Isolate suspected cases to minimize the risk of transmission within your department/practice," he said.

Measles are a highly contagious disease that often begins with symptoms similar to a bad cold: fever, runny nose, and a hacking cough, according to WebMD. The lymph nodes in the neck may also begin to swell. Once symptoms begin to subside, however, a rash spreads across the infected person's body and red dots appear on the tongue.

The incubation period for measles is between seven to 18 days, and with flight GA716 occurring May 13, passengers have been made aware of possible symptoms beginning imminently. People aged 26 to 42 often have the lowest immunization coverage for the disease, according to SBS, but those with compromised immune systems ought to be particularly careful.

WebMD advises vigilance after symptoms have subsided, as measles can sometimes lead to dangerous problems like pneumonia, encephalitis, seizures, or meningitis.

The child's father told the Herald Sun that he and his wife were not against all vaccinations, and had vaccinated their child against several diseases. He declined to say why the measles vaccine had not yet been administered.

"We are not anti-vaxxers, we’re actually pro-safe vaccines," he said.

The vaccine debate has become a hot-button issue in many developed countries, particularly in parts of the United States, according to The New York Times. Many parents have opted to sign a "conscientious exemption" which allows them to circumvent school district laws that mandate vaccines in students.  

Sources: via New York Post, SBS, WebMD, Herald Sun, The New York Times / Photo credit: Carlos Ruesser Monsalvez/Flickr

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