Measles Identified On Northwest Airlines Flight 39 - Passengers Urged To Seek Medical Evaluation

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

March 13, 2004

The Michigan Department of Community Health is reporting that a passenger who was on board Northwest Airlines Flight 39 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Friday was carrying a case of infectious measles.

Dr. Matthew Boulton, Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive, said Saturday that all passengers on Flight 39 who have not previously received two doses of a measles-containing vaccine should be seen immediately by either their physician or their local emergency room for measles immunization.

“Measles vaccine is most effective in preventing disease within 72 hours of exposure to an active case of measles,” Boulton said. “Measles is one of the most highly infectious diseases known to man, and because of very aggressive public health intervention, we see less than 100 cases in the United States per year.”

MDCH is working with other state health departments and Northwest Airlines officials to contact passengers who may have been on Flight 39. More than 200 passengers were reported to be on the flight.

The state of Michigan has only had infrequent isolated cases of measles over the past several years.

The passenger who had measles then boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 3786 from Detroit Metropolitan Airport to Cedar Rapids Friday afternoon. The passenger was first identified with measles in Cedar Rapids. Iowa health officials then contacted Michigan late Saturday.

Measles causes a high fever and a red rash over most of the body. It can cause pneumonia and deafness. In serious cases, measles can cause inflammation of the brain and even death.