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Measles warnings for NZers travelling overseas

Measles warnings for NZers travelling overseas

New Zealanders travelling overseas - including those travelling to Germany and going to the Football World Cup - should ensure their immunisations are up to date after outbreaks of measles in Germany, Australia and Fiji.

Dr Alison Roberts, the Ministry of Health's Senior Advisor for Public Health Medicine says measles is a highly infectious disease which can cause severe complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis.

"Before travelling overseas, New Zealanders should ensure their immunisations are up to date, and that they seek travel advice from their general practitioner or travel medicine specialist".

The measles outbreak in Germany is centred in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, where Dortmund, one of the Football World Cup venues, is located.

Local health authorities are diagnosing new cases each week and over 1000 cases have already been reported. The Football World Cup begins in June.

Australian health authorities have reported more than 50 cases of measles in New South Wales since March. Most cases were associated with a tour group visiting from overseas.

In April the Ministry alerted New Zealanders travelling to Fiji of the need to ensure their immunisations were up to date after an outbreak of measles.

New Zealand children are immunised against measles at 15 months and four years of age. Adults should speak to their general practitioner or travel medicine specialist about the need for measles mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine before travelling overseas.

The last measles epidemic in New Zealand was in 1997. More than 2000 cases of measles were identified, including 314 people who needed to be hospitalised due to complications of the disease.

Initial symptoms of measles are fever, irritated eyes, cough and characteristic Koplik spots (small white spots in the mouth). A red blotchy rash appears on the third to seventh day of illness, starting at the face and progressing over the body to the arms and legs. The rash lasts up to one week. Patients are most unwell for the first couple of days after the appearance of the rash.


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