Fears measles spreading in city

By Martin Johnston

Two new cases including Auckland Grammar boy spark warning to be watchful.

The highly infectious virus may be starting to spread in the city independently of imported cases. Photo / Thinkstock
The highly infectious virus may be starting to spread in the city independently of imported cases. Photo / Thinkstock

Auckland's public health authority fears a highly infectious measles virus may be starting to spread in the city independently of imported cases of the disease.

Until now, cases in the city's dose of measles - a potentially serious illness - have been traced to imported illness from hotspots such as the Philippines.

But two cases have been diagnosed in which inquiries by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service had not, by the end of last week, turned up any connection to the imported lines of the virus.

"At the moment these two cases are classified as community spread, acquired in New Zealand - we don't know where from," medical officer of health Dr Richard Hoskins said yesterday. "It is an indication it may be starting to spread in our community and that there are missed cases that haven't been diagnosed or notified.

"That is of concern. We don't want to get into [a repeat of the outbreak of] 2011/12 where we had over 500 Aucklanders with measles.

We had a major, sustained outbreak in Auckland and it spread to other parts of New Zealand - over 500 in Auckland and 100 elsewhere - from mid-2011 to mid-2012."

Dr Hoskins said up to 15 confirmed cases of measles in Auckland had been notified to the public health service this year, including a Year 9 boy at Auckland Grammar School, who received treatment at the Starship children's hospital.

Nationally more than 30 cases of measles have been notified to authorities since late December, around half of which were in the Taupo/Turangi area and linked to a hip-hop dance competition in Sydney.

On Friday, Dr Hoskins notified Auckland Grammar of the case from the school. Dr Hoskins said the boy was infectious with measles and at school only on February 7.

He told Auckland Grammar parents they needed to watch for measles symptoms until February 22. Children are considered susceptible to measles unless they have received two doses of measles/mumps/rubella vaccine, have had measles previously diagnosed by a doctor, or have had immunity shown on a blood test.

Symptoms

* Fever
* Cough
* Rash
* Sore eyes
* Can cause serious complications.

- NZ Herald

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