Waikato's chief health officer is urging anyone with measles symptoms who's planning to attend this weekend's All Blacks test to give up their ticket in light of the current outbreak.
Waikato DHB's medical officer of health Dr Richard Hoskins adds that the health sector is bracing itself "anxiously" as Auckland's measles cases creep concerningly close to 1000.
Currently, there are 963 confirmed cases of measles around the country, 804 of them in Auckland.
Hoskins today confirmed there were seven confirmed measles cases on its books, five of those are from the same family.
Hoskins said they were able to trace the cases to the family after a member, and part-time University of Waikato student, visited the campus during the semester break last month.
They quickly traced the disease back to his family members and put them in isolation.
University of Waikato's senior deputy vice-chancellor Professor Alister Jones said they had contacted other people who were in the campus' medical centre where the student presented himself.
They also sent out an email to students advising them of the incident and the importance of immunisation.
He confirmed the student was from out of town and the risk of spread was lowered as he had visited the campus during the break.
"That person was one of the people found when we were investigating one of the relatives of a confirmed case of measles and that person had an illness that fits with measles but it hadn't been diagnosed.
"We got a total of five so far in that family group from one confirmed case."
Hoskins said their phones "had been running hot" with suspected measles cases as the local health community was on high alert.
Discovering the person at the university helped trace the illness to the rest of the family, he said.
"This one it's pretty clear to us from the info we've got that the first case in this family group was never sick enough to seek medical help and it seems to have passed it on to a few others, one of whom who got properly investigated and diagnosed and then we've picked up a whole group going forward from there."
ALL BLACKS CAUTION
With a strong crowd expected at Waikato Stadium for Saturday afternoon's All Blacks vs Tonga game, Hoskins urged anyone who was experiencing measles-like symptoms to stay home.
"If they've been told they might be going to get measles then they shouldn't be coming to the game. They need to give that ticket to somebody who is immune.
"We don't want people who know that they've been in contact with measles and they're not immune themselves, or people who have got the early symptoms of measles.."
While the risk of spread was low at the stadium - being outdoors - it increased as people crammed into buses, restaurants or bars, before or after the game.
"We confidently expect that a large contingent of Aucklanders will want to come to Waikato Stadium to support one or both of those teams. "
He said it was worth remembering that outdoor exposure was significantly less troublesome than indoors because the ultraviolet light would kill the virus pretty quickly.
"But you're outdoors and your breath is being washed away very quickly. It's not impossible, it's just lower risk.
He said Waikato health officials were "extremely anxious" about the outbreak in Auckland but they knew that it was just a matter of time before the virus hit.
"We're extremely anxious and on high alert. These cases that we have now, we expected them ... what chance have we got, we're just south of the border, we've got tonnes of people who go there every day for work, or come here every day for work.
"It's inevitable that it would spread to us."
He said it was now imperative that anybody who had any form of respiratory illness, whether it was a cough or runny nose, to stay clear of others.
"Anybody who is normally well who starts getting a fever and coughing and sneezing and so forth, I don't care whether it's measles or the flu or a respiratory virus, at that point stop coughing and sneezing on other people.
"My advice is don't soldier on, don't pass whatever it is you have on to other people ... it would be better if people isolated themselves if they have respiratory symptoms.
MEASLES - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Measles is a viral illness that causes a skin rash and fever. It is very contagious and spreads easily through the air by sneezing or coughing.
• Between 1-2 cases in every 1000 are fatal. Measles kills more than 50 per cent of children with low immunity, such as cancer patients.
• The illness begins with fever, cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis (inflammation in the eyes), which lasts for 2-4 days.
• A rash appears 2-4 days later, beginning at the hairline and gradually spreading down the body.
• You can have measles and spread it to others before you feel sick or show any symptoms.
• Measles can also be caught by breathing the same air as an infected person, such as sitting next to them on the bus.
• The virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed.
• It can also be spread by contact with contaminated surfaces.