Measles Contagious on Planes, Study Reports

Source: Medical Xpress


A new study has found that measles can be spread on planes in rows well past the infected passenger, calling into question Australia’s policy to contact travelers in the same row, two rows in front, and two rows behind the infected passenger. A similar policy is in place in the United States and Europe. The study, presented at the annual scientific meeting of the Australian Society for Infectious Diseases, estimates that half of measles cases transmitted on flights are missed using the current policy. The policy also is ineffective because by the time the patient is diagnosed and other passengers are contacted, the window to administer vaccines or other preventive measures has closed. Researchers examined all reported measles cases in Australia from January 2007 to June 2011 involving patients who likely were infectious during a plane trip. Of the 20 secondary cases identified, 45 percent involved passengers sitting within two rows of the infectious passenger, and 55 percent involved travelers seated elsewhere on the plane. Researcher Gary Dowse of Western Australia’s Communicable Disease Control Directorate says it is possible that measles was transmitted when a fellow passenger walked down the aisle to the bathroom or while in the check-in area.

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