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Measles case in MidCentral DHB region

6 September 2019

A case of measles in the MidCentral region was notified to MidCentral DHB’s Public Health Service on 30 August, and confirmed via test results on 2 September.

The person travelled by car from Auckland on Thursday 29th August, and was admitted to Palmerston North Hospital that evening. The person has since returned to Auckland.

Contacts have been identified and will be in isolation until their vaccination status is established.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Patrick O’Connor advises people that measles is a highly infectious disease, so anyone who isn’t immune is at risk if they come in to contact with the disease. “It spreads from person to person through the air from breathing, coughing and sneezing, and contact with those secretions. The disease is contagious from just before symptoms begin until about five days after onset of the rash. The illness usually starts between 10 and 14 days after contact with the measles virus.”

Symptoms of measles include: fever, runny nose, cough, and sore red eyes. After three to five days a rash appears on the head and spreads down the body.

Dr O’Connor notes that this is the second case of measles that has been brought into the region recently, the first case occuring in May this year. “It serves as a timely reminder for those who are not fully immunised, or who are not sure of their vaccination status, to contact their GP team. This is particularly important if you are thinking of travelling to Auckland, or are expecting visitors from Auckland.”

Dr O’Connor said getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your community. “As measles cases continue to occur, it is particularly timely that you ensure you have received your Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine.”

The Ministry of Health has recently modified the standard MMR vaccination catch-up advice.

Infants aged 6–11 months can have their first MMR vaccination if they are travelling overseas to a country with a measles outbreak, but will still need their 15 month and 4 year MMR doses as per the national schedule.

Infants aged 12–14 months who are travelling to Auckland or overseas to a country with a measles outbreak should receive their 15 month vaccinations (MMR, varicella, Hib and PCV10) at least two weeks before travelling to allow their immunity against measles to develop.

Children aged 5 years or older, teenagers and adults aged under 50 years (i.e. born in 1969 or later)
who do not have two documented doses of MMR vaccine are recommended to receive a catch-up MMR vaccination. This is especially important for those under 30 – the age group where most cases are seen.

Adults aged 50 years or older (born in New Zealand before 1969) are considered to be immune to measles as they very likely had measles as children.

Anyone who thinks they may have measles should stay away from work, school or public places. If you think you might have measles, it is recommended that you contact your GP (by phone first) or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for more advice. It is important that you tell your GP that you think you might have measles before going in to the practice.


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