Has Hong Kong Airport Become The Hub Of A Measles Outbreak? Several Workers & Cathay Pacific Employees Infected!

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A scary matter of a measles outbreak at Hong Kong International Airport is currently keeping HK health authorities on their toes after several employees of the airport were diagnosed with the disease.

Previously it was also reported that at least two Cathay Pacific employees – one pilot and one flight attendant – both of which were on active duty and came in contact with passengers were infected.

The case reminds one of a nightmarish movie where scenarios of contagion by airborne diseases are often depicted and every so often air travel plays a vital part, as airports and aircraft allow infections to potentially spread around the globe with ease.

Today Bloomberg reported about the measles cluster in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s Department of Health is investigating an outbreak of measles that has infected three workers at the city’s airport.

The trio, employees at the Hong Kong International Airport, each developed a rash last week, according to a government statement late Friday. Another two cases were announced Saturday, one involving a man working for an airline and the other, a 11-month-old girl.

The man traveled to countries including Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines during the incubation and communicable periods, according to a separate government statement.

He was a pilot with Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Radio Television Hong Kong reported, citing the government. Cathay Pacific and the Hong Kong government’s information department couldn’t immediately be reached outside of office hours to confirm a pilot was infected. …

A health talk was conducted at the Hong Kong airport to deliver measles-related health advice to workers, a government spokesman said Friday. Measles mop-up vaccinations were given to close work contacts of the three patients to prevent the possible spread of infection, he said, referring to the infected airport employees.

At the beginning of March, a man developed full-blown symptoms of measles after boarding on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo. He was a flight attendant at the airline, the South China Morning Post reported.

It’s scary how so many people become infected and the common ground of all these cases is Hong Kong Airport. Even scarier is that all of them are adults who should be immune against measles if vaccinated properly and early in their life.

Here is the CDC website with factual information about Measles:

Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Also, measles virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.

Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears. …

The symptoms of measles generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected.

Measles typically begins with

  • high fever,
  • cough,
  • runny nose (coryza), and
  • red, watery eyes

Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth.

Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104° Fahrenheit. …

Measles can be prevented with MMR vaccine. The vaccine protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.

The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective.

Are all these adult cases that now pop up instances where vaccines weren’t effective or did they simply not get them in the first place? That would be an interesting question to be asked to Cathay Pacific – do airlines require their crew to have basic immunizations?

Conclusion

This isn’t the only case in recent weeks involving Measles. Early March news outlets in the U.S. reported about a possible exposure of travelers at Chicago’s Midway Airport.

Some articles also showed stats that infections from diseases such as measles are on the rise again which really shouldn’t happen considering for how long vaccines have been available now. People got complacent though and sometimes openly oppose such treatment, putting themselves and the public in danger.

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