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Measles outbreaks cause concern

1 August 2011

Measles outbreaks cause concern

The measles outbreaks in Auckland and the Waikato region are causing concern that measles may also come to the Bay of Plenty and Lakes region. Auckland has confirmed 94 cases to date and Waikato has now confirmed 8 cases.

The local Medical Officer of Health is urging parents to ensure that their children are up to date with their immunisations so that they are protected from measles. “It’s also important for parents to be aware that if their child is not immunised and has contact with someone with measles, their child will be required to stay at home from school for two weeks to help prevent the spread of measles,” says Dr Neil de Wet, Medical Officer of Health.

Measles immunisation provides effective protection and is provided free of charge, as part of the childhood immunisation schedule. The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is given in two doses, normally at 15 months and 4 years of age. “If you or your child has missed your immunisations, it’s never too late to catch up. Contact your family doctor or practice nurse,” says Dr de Wet.

People born before 1969 are likely to be immune because measles used to be quite common but those born from 1969 onwards who are unsure of their immunity should check with their doctor.

Measles usually begins with a runny nose, fever and sore eyes. This is followed by a red, blotchy rash that usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. “Measles can be serious when there are complications. These include diarrhoea, ear infections and, more seriously, pneumonia and inflammation of the brain,” says Dr de Wet.

If you think your child or someone in your family has measles; stay at home and phone your doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.

For more information:

• Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service website: www.toiteorapublichealth.govt.nz/measles
• Immunisation Advisory Centre toll-free phone line 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863)
• Immunisation Advisory Centre website: www.immune.org.nz
• Ministry of Health website: www.moh.govt.nz/immunisation

ENDS


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