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Measles alert for Auckland

Measles alert for Auckland

Source: Auckland Regional Public Health Service

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Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has been notified of a case of measles and is asking people who may have come in contact with that person to watch out for symptoms.

The person attended Clendon Medical Centre on three occasions on the 19th, 20th and 21st of February, and was assessed at Middlemore emergency department on the 21st around 5.00pm.

ARPHS will be contacting all patients who were at the medical centre or Middlemore Hospital who may have been exposed.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Jay Harrower says possible exposure is limited to these two locations at this stage. While the case caught the illness overseas, they were not infectious on the flight into New Zealand and have not been in any other public places.

"We will be contacting people who have been in the proximity of the case, but asking anyone who has been in these two locations on these days to be aware of the symptoms. They should phone their doctor or call Healthline on 0800 611-116 for advice.

"If you feel unwell, please don’t just turn up. It is important to call first, because measles is highly infectious and you could infect others in the waiting room," Dr Harrower says.

"This case is not linked to the measles cases in Otago and Canterbury this month. Auckland has a large number of travellers and low coverage of measles mumps and rubella vaccination (MMR) in some communities, so it is inevitable we’ll see some measles cases this year.

"There are measles outbreaks all over the world at present. Close to home, an outbreak in the Philippines has a death toll of 70. There are also outbreaks across Europe and North America," Dr Harrower says.

The Ministry is advising anyone travelling overseas to be up to date with their MMR vaccinations. In particular, the Ministry recommends that infants aged 6-15 months travelling to countries where there is a current measles outbreak be given MMR vaccine before they travel.

The best way to prevent measles is to be immunised on time, with two free MMR vaccinations for all children at 15 months and four years. Two doses of MMR vaccine is at least 97 percent effective in preventing measles.

"You can be immunised at any time if you have missed your two vaccinations, and it’s particularly important for adolescents, many of whom aren’t fully protected," he says.

People born after 1969 who have had only one MMR dose are entitled to the second MMR dose free of charge. Practice nurse fees may apply.

"Measles is a serious illness. One in 10 people with measles need hospital treatment and the most serious cases can result in deafness or swelling of the brain.

"Measles is one of the most infectious airborne diseases and a person is contagious before the rash appears. It is very easily transmitted from one person to another, possibly by being in a room where an infected person has been," Dr Harrower says.

Measles usually begins with a high fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes, followed by a rash starting behind the ears and spreading to the body a few days later. One in three people with measles will develop complications, such as ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhoea or rarely inflammation of the brain.

It usually takes 10 to 14 days for someone who has caught measles to start showing symptoms.

Dr Harrower says anyone who develops symptoms should keep away from their workplace and public places such as schools, child care, shopping centres or public transport and seek medical advice.

For more information or advice on measles, please call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see the Auckland Regional Public Health Service website.

ENDS


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