Fourteen measles cases now confirmed in Canterbury

Thursday 7 March 2019Media release3 minutes to read

A seventh case of measles has been confirmed in Canterbury

Fourteen cases of measles have been confirmed in Canterbury

The number of confirmed cases of measles in Canterbury now stands at fourteen and is likely to rise still further over the coming days and weeks. It can now be assumed that measles is circulating widely in our community.

The best protection is for people born after 1969 to have had two MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ramon Pink says that people in their late teens and early 20s are most at risk because a higher than usual proportion of that age group didn’t have their scheduled MMR vaccinations, and because they are highly social and highly mobile.

“Anyone in this age band who isn’t certain they have had both MMRs should contact their General Practice team to arrange for an MMR vaccination – the vaccination and the appointment to have it is free.

Babies whose mother is immune will have some protection if they are currently being breastfed. For children who are too young to have had both MMRs or who cannot be immunised for other reasons, the best way to protect them is to ensure everyone around them has been vaccinated – if you can’t get it, you can’t pass it on.

“Anyone who isn’t sure if they have had both MMR vaccinations can contact their general practice team for advice,” he says.

“If you think you may have been exposed to measles or have symptoms, please call your general practice first, 24/7. Calls made to general practices after hours will be answered by a nurse who will advise you what to do and where to go if you need to be seen.

“The MMR vaccine is very effective protection and we should see this as an opportunity for us all to make sure we are up to date with our vaccinations,” Dr Pink says.

Additional measles information

Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral disease where up to 30 percent of those who catch it will develop complications – usually children under 5 and adults over the age of 20. Measles during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, premature labour and low birth-weight in babies. Measles is spread through droplets in the air and through contact, so that anyone unprotected who has been in the same room as someone with measles will likely get it.

Measles symptoms include:

  • A respiratory type of illness with dry cough, runny nose, headache
  • Temperature over 38.5 C and feeling very unwell
  • A red blotchy rash starts on day 4-5 of the illness usually on the face and moves to the chest and arms.

More information about measles is available at http://www.immune.org.nz

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Page last updated: 14 March 2019

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