Three cases of measles have been confirmed in the last four days in the South Island. This is a notifiable disease and the cases have been reported in Queenstown, Wanaka and Christchurch.
At this time the common place of exposure for all three cases is Queenstown Airport, where all three are likely to have been in contact with an unknown infectious case on 21st or 22nd March. This person may have had a relatively mild illness and will now be fully recovered. Any other at-risk people exposed on 21 -22 March are now at the end of their maximum incubation period and unlikely to get sick.
None of the three known cases were immunised to measles.
Southern and Canterbury DHBs are working together on this investigation and close contacts of all three cases have been identified and are being followed up.
Unimmunised people who have been exposed to any of the three cases are most likely to become ill between 10th and 20th April. People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.
Canterbury DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink says it's important people with symptoms don't visit GP rooms or after-hours clinics but phone their family doctor/general practice team first for advice, to limit further exposure to other people.
"People are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash to five days after the rash starts and should stay in isolation during this time. This means staying home from school or work and having no contact with unimmunised people," says Dr Pink.
If people call their GP Team after-hours a nurse will answer the call and advise what to do and where to go if you need to be seen.
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing. Unimmunised people exposed to measles first develop a respiratory type of illness with dry cough, runny nose, temperature over 38.5 C and feel very unwell. The rash starts on day 4 or 5 of the illness usually on the face and moving down to the chest and arms.
The best way to protect yourself from measles is to have two MMR vaccinations. MMR is available from your family practice and is free to eligible persons.
Get more information about measles on the Ministry of Health website.
If you have symptoms and need advice you can also call Heathline on 0800 611 116.
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