Measles Outbreak: What You Need to Know

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.

Earlier immunisation

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.

For more information on measles, visit our family health section.

Did you get measles when you were a child?

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her world julieWritten 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. 

Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”


  1. kymmage 31/03/2019 at 10:39 pm

    So glad both my kids are protected with MMR. But am starting to question if I am covered. I can’t find my records and I’m a bit scared to ask. I’m not very good with needles 🙄 but I know I need to do something about it.

  2. dawnblyth 31/03/2019 at 10:24 pm

    Both my children have had their immunisations, and my husband and I have had one when we were younger. We haven’t had measles as children but I was talking to my Dad, 65 this year, who had measles when he was younger. He told me, as one of 14 children, there were three or four of the children all had measles at one time. They were put together in one room and treated together – kept away from the other siblings. I believe we all need to take the right steps to keep ourselves and others safe.

  3. SarahBlair 31/03/2019 at 9:55 pm

    My kids are all fully vaccinated but I know quite a few families that are against vaccination, I personally don’t think that it’s worth the risk especially when there are outbreaks like this. I had measles as I child, my brother had it several times as his body didn’t seem to be able to build an immunity to it

  4. Alezandra 27/03/2019 at 11:21 pm

    Just heard that it’s indeed spreading and I’ve just set an appointment recently for my 4 year old (who is just turning 4 in a few days). I think this is especially important to be done before the school holidays when travel is more common around the country. I do hope people are getting vaccinated for this, even adults.

  5. MuddledUpMolly 26/03/2019 at 12:03 pm

    Our daughter is only two months old so it is scary to hear all the news about the measles around the country. I hope that more can be done to keep this under control 🙁

  6. Mands1980 19/03/2019 at 11:25 am

    This is scary how it came to (NZ) measles. My children are all fully immunised but it’s the babies and others who can’t be immunised it would be a very worrying time for those parents and people. I have never had measles as was vaccinated as a child too.

  7. Bevik1971 18/03/2019 at 4:45 pm

    Not great reading about this outbreak 🙁 my 6 year old is fully immunised thankfully – her school even called me last week to check as they said they didn’t have her immunisation record on file, so I took her Plunket book in to copy! Hopefully it won’t increase in numbers and keep our wee ones safe

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