• Travel Alert – Japan (Measles)

    Measles: Japan (Osaka): Kansai International Airport alert

    The Osaka Prefectural Government is working to contain an outbreak of measles at a management company at Kansai International Airport that began about 1 month ago, reports the Asahi Shimbun [3 Sep 2016).

    A total of 31 employees of Kansai Airports have been confirmed to have the virus, which developed last month [August 2016] during the busy Obon [Festival of Souls, a Buddhist celebration] holiday period, a time when the airport received roughly 60 000 passengers per day.

    Special attention at Kansai International Airport is needed since it is a major gateway for Japan, a government official is quoted.

    In a statement issued on [31 Aug 2016], Kansai Airports said that it was working with the Izumi Sano Health Office in Osaka in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

    Kansai Airports notified its employees yesterday [3 Sep 2016] that if they are exhibiting symptoms they should not come to work,” the company said in the statement. A special hotline set up by the company received more than 260 inquiries over a 2-day period.

    On [19 Aug 2016], a hospital in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture confirmed a man, 19, who attended a performance by Justin Bieber at Makuhari Messe on [14 Aug 2016] had contracted measles. 4 members of the man’s family have also been confirmed to have the virus.

    According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the man used Kansai International Airport to travel overseas on [31 Jul 2016]. The man is believed to have exposed a female employee of Kansai Airports to the virus. She then spread it to 30 other persons within the company.

    Another 2 persons using the airport that day are believed to have contracted measles via the man. As well, 2 persons at the Justin Bieber concert likely received the virus from the man.

    By the morning of [31 Aug 2016], Kansai Airports had confirmed 16 employees had measles.

    Measles is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory system.

    Measles is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory system. It is spread by direct contact or airborne means, such as when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. Common symptoms include a fever, cough and a skin rash.

    Since the incubation period can reach 2 weeks, Kansai Airports warned recent users of the airport. “Customers who visited Kansai International Airport on or after [17 Aug 2016], and who may exhibit the symptoms outlined below are encouraged to seek medical attention,”

    Kansai Airports said in the same statement. “We are providing information on the Kansai Airports website to help keep the spread of this infection to a minimum.”

    Communicated by: ProMED-Mail

    This is a classic example of how rapidly measles can spread and highlights the importance of vaccination to protect the population.


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