Measles outbreak hits central Auckland

By Elizabeth Binning

Photo / Natalie Slade
Photo / Natalie Slade

The latest measles outbreak shows no sign of slowing, and 24 patients, many of them children, have been diagnosed in the past week.

Yesterday 203 cases of the infectious disease have been confirmed in Auckland since May.

The most recent surge has hit central suburbs such as Parnell, Ponsonby, Herne Bay and the CBD.

The number of cases has continued to grow, and 31 people have required hospital treatment, prompting Auckland's Medical Officer of Health, Dr Richard Hoskins, to urge people to make sure they are immunised.

"You are more likely to get it in New Zealand now than you have been in the past 14 years.

"If you are unsure of your family's immunisation status or you have not been immunised call your doctor.

"By getting immunised you will not only be protecting yourself or your child - you'll also be stopping this disease spreading in our communities."

Two-thirds of the cases have been in babies, infants, children and teenagers, and the disease has struck everywhere from early childhood centres to tertiary institutions.

Richmond Rd Primary is one of the latest schools to be hit after confirmation during the weekend that a male pupil had the disease.

Principal Stephanie Anich said the school, which was the subject of a false alarm last month, sent a notice home to parents on Monday night.

It advised that all "susceptible children" - that is anyone who is not immunised or doesn't know their immunisation status - should stay at home.

The school was enforcing a strict policy, saying it could not risk the disease being spread. That meant about 10 pupils would not be able to take part in the school's production, which was being staged today.

Dr Hoskins said it was important unimmunised children stay away from schools when there had been a confirmed case of measles, not only for their own protection but to prevent them possibly passing it to others who may be vulnerable.

"Those parents who have chosen not to immunise their kids need to realise that there's an element of social responsibility here to other people who have made different choices and are in different situations."

He said it was important parents realised children could be infectious a day before any symptoms showed.

Meanwhile, a 19-year-old Victoria University student is in hospital after becoming infected on a flight from Auckland to Wellington this month.

In August three cases of measles were confirmed at Auckland Girls' Grammar.

- NZ Herald

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