The number of confirmed measles cases in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District has risen to more than 55 as health officials continue to try and contain the outbreak.
As at October 1, there were 11 confirmed cases in Rotorua, 10 in Taupō, and 37 in the Western Bay since January 1 this year.
The confirmed cases across the country this year have risen to 1576, which included 1307 in the Auckland region, according to the Ministry of Health.
Two unborn babies in Auckland have died after their mothers caught measles during the recent outbreak of the disease, Auckland Regional Public Health has confirmed.
Dr Phil Shoemack, Toi Te Ora Public Health's medical officer of health, said of the 58 confirmed cases in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes district, 22 people were hospitalised.
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Sixteen of the 22 patients were treated in Tauranga Hospital, and the rest in hospitals in the Lakes district, and all those patients had since been discharged, he said.
"Some of these patients were quite unwell, and they spent time in intensive care, at least for 24 hours," Shoemack said.
Shoemack said the team at Toi Te Ora were working to identify anyone who may have had contact with the latest confirmed measles case in Taupō while the person was infectious.
"Anyone who was not immune, and was at any of the listed venues [below] at the indicated times, must stay in home isolation for at least eight days."
Home isolation means staying at home, avoiding gatherings and staying away from any public places.
People who were at the following places in Taupō, and are younger than 50 and unvaccinated, were at risk:
. AC Baths Taupō - September 23 - 10am to 12.30pm and 4pm to 6.30pm
• AC Baths Taupō - September 25 - 9am to 10.30am
• Taupō Children's Corner (Duncan Street) - September 24 - 8.30am to 10.15am
• Taupō Children's Corner (Duncan Street) - September 26 - 8am to 9.30am
• Taupō Children's Corner (Duncan Street) - September 27 - 2 pm to 4pm
• Taupō Hospital outpatients waiting room - September 24 - 12.30pm to 2.30pm
• Taupō Academy of Dance - September 25 - 1.30pm to 4.30pm
• Mount View Primary School - September 26 -3pm to 5pm
• Mount View Primary School - September 27 - 8am to 10am
Shoemack said measles could have serious complications.
"It's one of the most infectious viruses so it is important we stop the spread. If you are not immune you can catch it just from being in the same room as someone who has measles," he said.
"It can take from seven to 14 days after being in contact with a case of measles before you start to develop symptoms."
Toi Te Ora also followed up well in excess of 1000 people who may have contact with the 272 notified cases in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District this year, Shoemack said.
"Of those tested, the quickest turnaround was 48 hours, but it usually takes 72 hours to get laboratory test results back. Fortunately, only 58 of our notified cases this year turned out to have measles."
"Apart from two or three cases, we are pretty sure how the confirmed cases in Bay of Plenty and Lakes district had contracted measles.
"Whether it was from attending a birthday party or sitting in medical centre waiting room virtually all our confirmed cases were able to be traced to a known source, " he said.
"While our cascade level is not quite in the same situation as the Auckland region is getting, the problem is widespread and measles is highly contagious.
"The virus spreads easily from person to person by people coughing and sneezing, so people's concerns about the outbreak and containing it are justified," Shoemack said.
A person with measles is infectious to others for up to five days before their rash appears. The early symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose and sore red eyes.
Anyone with symptoms should stay at home, phone their GP and follow their advice.
Western Bay of Plenty PHO general practice services manager Phil Back said general practices across the Bay of Plenty region which had run-out of MMR vaccines or had limited supplies received top-ups two weeks ago.
Back said feedback from the MMR distributor was that there was a "very good" level of management by GPs in the region to meet their scheduled immunisation obligations.
Priority was still being given to the most vulnerable groups, particularly those scheduled to get their routine MMR at 15 months and 4-years-old, he said.
Back said the Bay of Plenty region was due to receive a further top-up of about 100 doses today and further vaccine doses fortnightly after that to enable general practices to have a small stockpile to meet ongoing demand.
The availability of MMR was being matched to the level of demand from GP to meet their scheduled vaccinated obligations, he said.
A Bay of Plenty midwife, who asked not to be identified, said there had not been an increase in calls from expectant mothers after the news of the deaths of the two babies.
"However, we already have this conversation with women to educate them about measles and the risks in pregnancy and anyone concerned is referred to their GP," she said.
By the numbers:
*58 confirmed measles cases in Bay of Plenty and Lakes District:
Aged under 1: 6 - (5 hospitalised)
1 to 9 years: 14 - (5 hospitalised )
10 to 19 years: 13 - (5 hospitalised )
20 to 29 years: 17- (5 hospitalised)
30 years and over: 8 - (2 hospitalised)
Source: Toi Teo Ora Public Health