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23.4.2019

The number of confirmed measles cases in Auckland stands at 18 for the year, with Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) notified of another new case over the Easter break.

Medical Officer of Health Dr William Rainger says the latest confirmed case is an 11-month-old baby from West Auckland.

He says young babies are particularly at risk of the disease.

“In New Zealand babies receive the first of their two scheduled measles vaccinations at 15 months old, so children younger than that are vulnerable to the illness.  They rely on those around them being vaccinated against the disease.”

Dr Rainger says the messages of recent weeks remain unchanged. 

“We would remind people to be vigilant for the signs and symptoms of measles – fever, cough, runny nose and sore red eyes. After three to five days, a rash appears on the face and then moves down the body.”

Dr Rainger says people with measles can spread it to others even before they start feeling sick, so often don’t know that they might be exposing others.

“If you think you or your child has measles – or you’ve been in contact with someone you believe has the disease - it’s important to call your doctor or healthcare centre before turning up. Staff can then isolate you on arrival to avoid spreading the illness to others in the waiting room.”

Measles is highly infectious and potentially life-threatening. About one in 10 people will need hospital treatment and 30 per cent of cases develop complications – largely those aged under five or 20 and over. 

As well as babies and young children, non-immunised pregnant women and immune-compromised people, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, are at particular risk from measles.

So far this year 10 people have been hospitalised for the disease in Auckland and ARPHS has contacted, or is contacting, more than 1500 people who may have been exposed to measles. Two people are currently in quarantine.

Dr Rainger says vaccination is the best protection against measles and anyone unsure if they’re immune should check their health records. This includes their Well Child/Plunket book, or asking their usual doctor or practice nurse.

For more information or advice on measles, please call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see the measles page or Ministry of Health websites.

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