Numerous people exposed to measles after traveller returns from Southeast Asia

By Martin Johnston

Auckland City Hospital adult emergency department waiting room was one of the locations the measles patient visited. Photo / Bradley Ambrose
Auckland City Hospital adult emergency department waiting room was one of the locations the measles patient visited. Photo / Bradley Ambrose

Around 150 people have been exposed to measles by a person sick with the virus who visited several Auckland locations, a public health official says.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service appealed last week for those feeling unwell who had visited the Auckland City Hospital emergency department or three other places at certain times earlier this month to seek medical help in case they were coming down with measles.

Medical officer of health Dr David Sinclair said this week 150 people were known to have been exposed to the sick person, but "this is an evolving number as we contact people".

No new cases of measles had been notified, Sinclair said.

"At this stage we are monitoring some contacts who are at risk of becoming unwell, but we have had no secondary confirmed cases."

The original case is an adult who had recently returned from travel to Southeast Asia. The person was not infectious during the return plane trip, but did require hospital admission.

"Two per cent of measles cases are of sufficient severity to warrant hospitalisation, while up to 30 per cent will suffer other complications, hence our efforts to contain spread."

Public Health listed the locations and times at which the measles case was present:

• K Road City Travellers Hostel, Karangahape Rd, August 8-13
• Zarbo deli & café, Newmarket, August 10, 2.30-5pm and August 11, 9am-2pm
• The Auckland City Doctors waiting room, Queen St, August 9, 10am-1pm
• Auckland City Hospital adult emergency department waiting room August 13, 7am-1pm.

Visitors to those places at the listed times were likely to have been exposed to the virus and if not immune could fall sick with measles.

People were considered immune if they had received two doses of the measles vaccine, had had measles disease or were born before 1969. Those who had received only one dose of the vaccine should see their doctor for a free second dose, Public Health said.

Those infected were likely to experience symptoms from seven days after exposure to the virus. The first symptoms are a fever, and one or more of a runny nose, cough and sore red eyes. After a few days a red blotchy rash starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

People who felt unwell and had visited the listed places at the times stated were urged to phone their doctor - or Healthline on 0800 611 116 - for advice rather than turning up unannounced because measles is so highly infectious and could easily spread to others in a medical waiting room.

- NZ Herald

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