Taranaki DHB's Medical Officer of Health said today that two people who have recently visited New Plymouth have been confirmed with having measles. Medical Officer of Health, Dr Greg Simmons said, "both visited New Plymouth during the infectious period of their illness without knowing they had the disease and unfortunately may have now exposed others to measles".
Measles is a highly infectious and serious disease that spreads quickly. People who have shared the same air as someone that is infectious with measles, e.g. being in the same room, may be at risk of developing the disease if they are not already immune. Dr Simmons advised, "symptoms of measles can include fever, runny nose and sore watery red eyes that can last for several days before a red blotchy rash appears. People are infectious from five days before the rash appears to five days after. Complications are common with measles and about 1 in 10 people will need hospital treatment".
"Anyone with symptoms of measles should call ahead before visiting their family doctor, after-hours clinic or emergency department so that steps can be taken to reduce the risk of infecting others in the waiting room," Dr Simmons cautioned.
Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease and anyone who has had at least two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination is considered immune. People most at risk of contracting the disease are those who have either not had the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine, or who have just had one dose of the vaccine.
Dr Simmons said, "Now is the time to consider if you are immune to measles or not.
I urge people to ensure they are fully immunised as this is the best way for people to protect themselves and others against measles and it is free to those who need it."
Measles information, advice and resources can be found online here.