Canterbury District Health Board’s Community and
Public Health Division has been notified of three confirmed cases of measles in
Christchurch this month.
The first case became infected after contact
with a person who arrived in New Zealand from Sydney in January with measles.
The second case was visiting Christchurch from Melbourne, to attend a wedding.
The third case is a secondary school pupil. Two cases were unimmunised and one
case had only one MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccination.
Measles is a serious illness and one out of
every ten people who catch it will need to be hospitalised. The MMR vaccine
offers the best protection against measles. Two doses are required to give
maximum protection. These are usually given at around 15 months and four
Currently there are 15 confirmed cases in the
Auckland region and two confirmed cases in Wellington.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ramon
Pink, says all cases have been very unwell with their illness, requiring time
away from work and school.
“It is a powerful reminder to parents to make
sure their children are immunised. All caregivers, particularly those concerned
that their children could be at risk in this outbreak, should check their
children’s immunisation record and if they have not been immunised contact their
GP and arrange for it to be done,” Ramon Pink said.
The MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccination is
an effective vaccine, giving life-long immunity.
Anyone who is concerned that they or a family
member may have measles should phone their General Practice team.
Symptoms of the disease include:
At first, a fever, runny nose and
sore red eyes (conjunctivitis),
After a few days, a red blotchy
rash appears which lasts for up to a week. The rash usually starts on the face
and spreads to the rest of the body.
Spots on the inside of the mouth
It’s important to call your doctor first as measles is easily
spread from person to person through the air. Phoning ahead helps ensure people
with measles do not end up sitting in a waiting room, potentially spreading the
illness to others.
Measles is now uncommon in New Zealand thanks to vaccination.
There were three outbreaks in 2009/2010, all of which were started by people who
were infected overseas.
How to protect yourself and your family against
Measles can’t easily be treated once
you get it, so the only way to prevent the disease is through
immunisation. Canterbury DHB encourages parents and families to check
that their children’s immunisations are up-to-date. In addition, adults born
after 1969 who are unsure whether they are immune should check with their family
doctor. By getting immunised, you will not only be protecting yourself or
your child, you’ll also be stopping the disease from spreading in our
Who is eligible for free measles
Anyone, over the age of one year, who was born after 1969 and
who has not had two doses of measles vaccine in the past. Note that
measles vaccine is usually first given at 15 months of age, but can sometimes be
given at 12 months or earlier.Call your General Practice team or
Healthline 0800 611 116 for health advice
Healthline is a free 24-hour Telephone Health Information
Service for all families. The service is staffed by registered nurses who will
assess your health needs, and give information and advice to help you decide on
the best level of care.Healthline uses Language Line Monday to Friday,
9am to 6pm. When you call Healthline during these hours, the nurse or call
handler can usually arrange for an interpreter. Outside these hours, Healthline
uses other interpreting services as far as possible. It is not always possible
to locate an interpreter in a particular language at short notice.
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