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Passengers left at risk of measles for more than eight hours on flight to Dublin

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Passengers would have gone on to connecting flights to Europe or could have mingled in Dublin Airport

The HSE is asking the most vulnerable passengers on Etihad Airways flight EY45 from Abu Dhabi to Dublin, which arrived on Saturday last at 6:30am, to contact them urgently.

Records show a flight journey of more than eight hours.

The most concern is for pregnant women, the immunocompromised and unvaccinated children under the age of one, who were on board.

They should contact HSELive at 1800 700 700, or 00 353 1 240 8787 if calling from outside of Ireland, urgently because they may need to have treatment, such as a measles antibodies injection.

The alert follows confirmation the infected passenger was the third case of measles in Ireland this year.

A man in his late 40s from Westmeath, who caught the virus in Birmingham, died in February and a teenager from the west of Ireland was confirmed as having measles last week.

The HSE has advised all passengers on the flight to be aware of the signs and symptoms of measles until Saturday, March 30, which is 21 days from the time of possible exposure.

Abu Dhabi is a hub and its airport is a gateway for people travelling from the Middle East and Africa as well as South Asia.

It is unclear if the person on board the flight to Dublin had flown from another country.

Some passengers on the plane to Dublin would have gone on to connecting flights to parts of Europe, which widens the risk of infection being passed on, while they could also have mingled in Dublin Airport.

Ireland is at risk of measles outbreaks because vaccination rates with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) have fallen below 90pc and there are pockets of young people who have missed out on the two jabs.

Measles is on the rise in Europe and in the US and the influx of tourists and participants in St Patrick’s Festival activities heightens the risk, along with families from this country going abroad for Easter.

The Centre for Disease Control in the US warns that people who are not immunised have a 90pc chance of becoming infected if they are exposed to the virus.

Signs and symptoms of measles include a runny nose, sneezing and a cough, sore red eyes, a temperature of 38C or above and a rash which usually appears on the head and neck first and spreads to the rest of the body.

If anyone has these symptoms and if illness develops, they should stay at home in a separate room, and seek healthcare advice.

The HSE warned that anyone with further travel arrangements should not travel if they are experiencing the above symptoms, but should seek medical advice.

The HSE will roll out a proactive MMR vaccine catch-up programme in the coming weeks, in response to a rise in measles cases in the UK and Europe.

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