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Measles warning new confirmed cases in the Waikato

The Medical Officer of Health has been notified of three new confirmed cases of measles in the Waikato region in the last two weeks, some linked to South Auckland.

The Waikato public need to know that the risk of further cases is high.

This statement comes from Waikato DHB’s Medical Officer of Health Dr Richard Hoskins, who also says: "The outbreak has come either from people getting exposed to measles out of the Waikato region, or from exposure to local measles cases before they are diagnosed and isolated.

"We are still working to identify all the exposed people from the two most recent cases, so far it looks like we can identify and contact them directly" says Dr Hoskins.

Measles can be very serious and spreads very easily, it is important:

- People planning to go to Auckland should check they are fully immunised first, kids down to 12 months of age can have MMR1 early if going to Auckland (or high risk country overseas which would be via Auckland Airport) and need to wait two weeks after MMR before travelling.

- That people aged 1-50 who cannot show they are immune, and therefore don’t really know that they are immune, to find out or have catch up immunisation at a medical centre. Catch up immunisation is FREE.

- To know you are immune you need to have had two doses of the measles containing vaccine, or have had measles, or had a test showing measles immunity.

Signs of measles and what to do

Anyone who thinks they may have measles should telephone their doctor or Health-line (0800 611-116).

- If you need to be seen it is important to call ahead because measles is highly infectious and people with measles can pass it on to others in waiting rooms, etc. If you call ahead arrangements can be made to reduce the risk of you spreading measles to others.

"Measles is easily passed from one person to another. Already this year, there have been more cases of measles than in any year since the 1997 epidemic. Most of the cases are just north of us in Auckland. There is no sign yet of the spread slowing. The best form of protection is immunisation with two MMRs," said Dr Hoskins.

"It is important to be aware of the symptoms of measles and what to do if you think you or a family member has measles. If you were exposed look out for fever and runny nose, cough, or sore red eyes. After a few days a red blotchy rash develops and lasts up to one week. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body."

What to do if you can’t show you are immune to measles and are exposed to someone with measles

People who cannot show they are immune to measles must stay at home and away from all public places, school or work for 14 days after their last contact, or until their immunity is proven.

People who are regarded as not immune to measles are:

- People younger than 50 years old (born after 01 January 1969) who have not had two doses of measles vaccine (usually MMR) or have not had a laboratory result showing immunity.

- Children over four years old who have not received their second dose of MMR vaccine.

- Infants under the age of 15 months or who have not received their first routine MMR vaccine. These babies are usually susceptible to measles infection and rely on everyone else to be immune so that measles does not spread to them.

For more information on measles:

- Immunisation Advisory Centre website: www.immune.org.nz

- Ministry of Health: www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/measles

- Health Navigator: www.healthnavigator.org.nz/health-a-z/m/measles/

- Don’t Assume You’re Immune website: www.getimmunised.org.nz

The Immunisation Advisory Centre has developed a good web page that answers many of the common questions about measles and MMR vaccine including:

- Questions about giving MMR before 15months of age

- Advice for health professionals in New Zealand.

ENDS


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