WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Measles guidelines on planes miss majority of infections

An Australian study recently determined that measles can be spread on planes in rows far beyond infected passengers.

The new study raises questions about current measles control guidelines for the illness. Guidelines in the United States, Europe and Australia currently call for passengers seated in the same row, and in two rows forward and back, to be contacted if an infected passenger is found, GlobalPost.com reports.

The new research, which was recently presented at the annual meeting of the Australian Society for Infectious Diseases in Canberra, demonstrates that the accepted approach may miss half of the transmitted cases aboard a flight.

Gary Dowse from Western Australia's Communicable Disease Control Directorate said the reaction time to finding a transmitted case of measles was generally eight days. By that time, it is too late to administer a vaccine or give other preventative aid.

"So in most instances our policy is ineffective because we find out too late," Dowse said, according to GlobalPost.com. "And despite the policy, more than half the secondary cases that are going to occur are seated outside the two rows."

Dowse's study approximates that only 45 percent of secondary infections on planes are seated within the two row area. He noted that it remains uncertain as to why this occurs, but it is possible that people frequently move up and down the aisles, particularly to use the restroom.