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24.9.2019

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is asking people attending the memorial service for Tongan PM ‘Akilisi Pohiva on 15 September to be alert for measles.

ARPHS Medical Officer of Health Dr William Rainger says a young Auckland woman at the Tu’ingapapai Free Wesleyan Church service in Favona on this date has since been diagnosed with measles.

The Ministry of Health in New Zealand has advised the Ministry of Health in Tonga of the situation.

“We are providing advice on who may have been exposed to the measles virus at this gathering remembering the Tongan PM,” Dr Rainger says.

People at this service should be vigilant for symptoms of the highly infectious disease from today.

The symptoms include a high fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes. A few days later a rash starts on the face and neck, and then spreads to the rest of the body.

You are most at risk if you’re not immune to measles, either because you haven’t been vaccinated or you haven’t had the disease previously,” Dr Rainger says.  

“If you may have been exposed to the virus and are unsure whether you’re immune to measles, talk to your doctor or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice. There are translators available through Healthline, and ARPHS has an information sheet in Tongan for people who have been exposed to measles. This is on its website www.arphs.health.nz/tongan-measles-translation.

 “If you do start to develop symptoms that could be measles, also contact your doctor. Be sure to call ahead to prevent potentially infecting others in the waiting room, Dr Rainger says.

Auckland has now had 1203 cases of measles, with nearly 50 percent of cases occurring in Pacific communities in the region, especially in South Auckland.

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

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