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Tairawhiti health issues measles vaccination reminder

Tairawhiti health officials issue measles vaccination reminder

The number of confirmed measles cases connected to a hip-hop event in December is now at 16 – one in Auckland, two in Wellington, and 13 in the Taupo-Turangi area.

The cases have prompted medical officer of health Dr Geoffrey Cramp to remind Tairawhiti residents that the best way to protect your child from getting measles is to make sure that they are immunised.

“Contact your family practice and arrange for this to be done,” Dr Cramp urges.

“Sooner or later someone from our region who is not immune to measles is going to be exposed to this highly infectious disease and then it is going to be brought home to Gisborne,” he adds.

Measles is a serious and highly infectious viral disease that can make people very sick and can lead to hospitalisation or, in rare cases, death. It is spread from person to person through the air by sneezing or coughing.

It is so infectious, says Dr Cramp, that simply being in the same room as someone with measles can lead to infection if you are not immunised.

“It’s estimated that just one person with measles can pass on the disease to 13 other people who have not been immunised. Immunisation is the only sure way to stop getting and stop spreading measles.”

Early measles symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, sore red eyes and white spots inside the mouth. After three to five days, a rash appears on the head and then moves down the body. One in three people with measles develops complications, including ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhoea or, rarely, inflammation of the brain.

According to Dr Cramp, in the event of a child or an adult having measles in this region the public health team will identify people that they have been in contact with.

“The person with the disease will not be able to go to work or school but more than that, anyone who has had close contact with the case, and are not immunised, will also not be allowed to go to work, school, the kohanga or early child care centre for two weeks.”

The measles vaccination is usually given at 15 months of age but children can get it at any time from 12 months of age with a further vaccine, that is usually given at 4-5 years of age, one month after their first vaccination.

“For adults born between 1969 and 1981 it is recommended you check your immunisation records to see if you have been immunised - if not, see your GP for immunisation against measles.”

ENDS

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