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Measles case confirmed in Hawke’s Bay

An infant has been confirmed with measles in Hawke’s Bay and is in Hawke’s Bay Hospital.

The infant contracted the highly contagious airborne disease while visiting Auckland.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Medical Officer of Health, Dr Nicholas Jones, said public health officials were working swiftly with family and other known close contacts to ensure those who weren’t immunised against measles stayed in isolation to avoid further spread of the disease.

The infant was not yet at the age for immunisation to help protect against the virus. The Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is routinely given at 15 months and 4 years of age.

“Measles spreads easily from person to person through the air by breathing, sneezing or coughing, but it is preventable if people are immunised against it,” said Dr Jones.

“The first early symptoms of measles are fever, runny nose, sore red eyes and cough. After three to five days a red, blotchy rash appears on the face and head and then spreads down the body.”

Dr Jones said public health teams were contacting people known to have come into contact with the case but also wanted to alert the public about possible contacts in the community.

“Prior to the family realising the nature of the illness, the infant accompanied a member of the family to New World in Flaxmere on Wednesday 10 July between 5pm and 5.30pm.

“Whilst we believe the risk would be relatively low, we urge anyone who was shopping at the supermarket on that day within those timeframes to check their immunisation status and contact their doctor should they start experiencing any onset of measles symptoms.”

“I would like to stress that there is no exposure risk to people who visited outside of that date or time period.”

Dr Jones said public health officials were also directly contacting people who presented to Hawke’s Bay Hospital’s Emergency Department and were in the waiting room on Friday 12 July between 8pm and 2:30am on Saturday 13 July and again on Tuesday 16 July between 4:30pm and 6:40pm. Anyone concerned, who had not yet spoken to a health official, could contact their family doctor or Heathline 24/7 on 0800 611 116.

“The most important message is, if you believe you or a family member may have measles, please stay at home and phone your doctor to alert them of your symptoms and allow them to make arrangements to assess you safely and without infecting other people, or call Healthline for advice.

“I would also urge anyone born after 1969 who is not fully immunised against measles to contact their doctor about having the free vaccine because it offers the best protection,” he said.

Local primary health care providers (family doctors and urgent care providers) have been advised to be alert to patients presenting or phoning in with symptoms.

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