Measles outbreak over

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Photo: Brett Phibbs
Photo: Brett Phibbs

After nearly three months with no new confirmed cases, Auckland's measles outbreak is officially over.

With measles still in the Waikato and spreading into Northland, however, Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) urges Aucklanders to remain vigilant and to get immunised.

"There are recent measles cases both north and south of Auckland, and once it gets into an unprotected population, it moves fast. During the Auckland outbreak, for instance, measles spread rapidly through the Westlake Boys High School community, ultimately infecting 52 students, teachers and other contacts," says Dr Hoskins.

In the end, says Dr Hoskins, 112 Aucklanders became ill with measles since January this year.

"112 cases is 112 too many, but the outbreak would have been much worse without the cooperation of measles cases and contacts. I would also like to thank the region's health professionals for their efforts in limiting the spread of measles.

"With measles in surrounding regions, and overseas, ARPHS asks that people ensure they are fully protected against measles. The best form of protection is two MMR vaccinations."

Recommendations for those born after 1 January 1969 are:
• Check that you - and your family - have received two doses of the MMR vaccine. This should be able to be confirmed by your GP or recorded in your children's Well Child/Tamariki Ora Health Book.
• Anyone not recorded as immunised, or who has had only one measles vaccination, should receive one dose of MMR as soon as possible, with a second dose at least 28 days later for those who had no previous MMR.
• If in doubt, vaccinate. If medical records cannot be located, and there is any uncertainty as to whether someone has received two doses, an MMR can be given with no added risk.
• Babies aged 6 to 15 months should have an MMR before travelling overseas.

"The more people who are immunised," says Dr Hoskins, "the safer those people are who cannot be - such as pregnant women, infants too young to be immunised, and those with weakened immune systems.

"For these people, measles is especially dangerous. But with up to one in three experiencing complications, and hospitalisation rates higher than usual in the recent outbreak, measles is serious no matter how healthy you normally are," warns Dr Hoskins.
Auckland 2014 measles outbreak at a glance
• 112 confirmed measles cases notified since January 2014
• 12 cases imported from overseas, three of these in babies too young to be immunised
• 18 sporadic cases (cases in the community not linked to other cases)
• 26 cases required hospital treatment
• 3113 contacts traced by ARPHS, many of whom had to be quarantined - missing school, work and other important events

- THE AUCKLANDER

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