A measles outbreak in Auckland has spread to over 800 confirmed cases while there have been almost 1,000 cases nationwide this year. The number is continuing to rise as the highly infectious virus spreads throughout communities.
Earlier this year, Canterbury District Health Board reported a measles outbreak. Now Auckland Regional Public Health Service have reported 804 confirmed cases in their area (as of 2nd September 2019), climbing sharply from 227 cases in just over six weeks. Many of these cases are in children under age five, or in young people aged 15 to 29.
National health advisory
The outbreak has resulted in some sports tournaments being cancelled in order to try and stop the spread of the virus. As over 50 of the region’s schools have had a case of measles this year, some schools are also asking parents to keep unvaccinated children away from school.
A National health advisory has been issued:
People travelling to Auckland, particularly South Auckland, should be immunised against measles before they travel. People who have early symptoms of measles (fever, cough, runny nose, sore eyes) should not travel.
Immunisation should be at least two weeks prior to travel.
Immunisation with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family. Usually the first dose of the MMR vaccine is given at 15 months of age, followed by a second dose at four years old. However, babies who are living in Auckland (or who are travelling there), can have their first measles vaccine earlier at 12 months of age. One dose of the MMR vaccine gives 95% of people immunity.
If you are unsure of your vaccination status, or that of your child, your GP clinic should be able to check their records.
Stopping the spread
If you contract measles, the Ministry of Health advice is to isolate yourself to protect vulnerable people, like babies, pregnant women, and those with compromised immunity or those who cannot be immunised. You should remain isolated until five days after the rash appears.
“Anyone who is sick should also stay away from work, school or public places, to help prevent putting other people at risk. This also applies if you or a family member aren’t fully immunised and may have been in contact with someone with measles,” says the Director of Public Health, Dr Caroline McElnay, (Ministry of Health).
If you suspect you have measles, you should call your doctor and inform them of the potential for measles before visiting the clinic. Alternatively, call Healthline on 0800 611 116, for advice. Check the Auckland Regional Public Health website for the latest information.
Symptoms and infectious period
Often the first indications of the measles virus present similar to a cold or the flu. These may include a cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis, headache, and a fever (above 38.5C). Next comes a blotchy rash around four to five days after contracting the illness. The rash tends to appear on the face, chest and arms. The patient will be infectious from around five days before and until five days after the rash appears.
Written by Julie Scanlon
Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire.
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