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Risk of measles transmission on aeroplanes: Australian experience 2007–2011

To the Editor: We thank Hoad and colleagues for presenting data from Australian states and territories regarding in-flight exposure to measles.1

The current cases in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, which have included domestic air travel,2 highlight the challenges measles still holds for Australia. Hoad et al’s report outlines the substantial public health response that such air travel events generate, despite the low likelihood of being able to use postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), measles–mumps–rubella vaccine or immunoglobulin in exposed contacts. They suggest that direct email or text messaging of passengers should be considered as an alternative to routine contact tracing, but identify that contact information is not always available to health departments.

Given this, we recommend that airlines be made responsible for alerting passengers in the event of an urgent public health concern, such as potential exposure to measles.

This would require airlines to keep travel manifests for at least 14 days after a flight. Potentially exposed passengers could be directed to a health department website providing information about PEP options,…