Since yesterday's report, a further three cases of measles have been confirmed in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts, bringing the total number of confirmed measles cases to 17 since the start of April.

Each of the three new cases is a resident of the Western Bay of Plenty, one of whom is known to have had contact with a previous case.

"Our team is working to identify people who may have been in contact with each case," said Dr Phil Shoemack, Medical Officer of Health for Toi Te Ora Public Health.

"It's important everyone remains vigilant and looks for the signs and symptoms of measles, no matter where you are located.

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"If you think you or someone in your family/whānau may have measles, please stay at home and phone your doctor or Healthline first. The first early symptoms of measles are fever, runny nose, sore red eyes and cough, followed a few days later by a rash usually starting on the face before moving down the body.

"Measles is one of the most infectious viruses, so it is important that we try to limit the spread," Shoemack said.

Measles spreads easily from person to person. It can be serious with about one in 10 affected people needing hospital treatment.

The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is very effective in preventing measles, Shoemack said.

"It's important that parents ensure their children receive their free routine MMR immunisations on time at 15 months and 4 years of age.

"If for any reason you have never had a dose of MMR vaccine now is the time to get one.

"After just one dose of MMR vaccine about 95 per cent of people will be protected from measles, and 99 per cent of people who have had two MMR doses will be protected from measles."

People born before January 1, 1969 are considered to be immune because virtually everyone got measles prior to the vaccine being introduced that year, and so this older age group does not need the measles immunisation.

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It is particularly important to check your immunity if you are planning an overseas trip. The Ministry of Health recently highlighted that since 2012, all outbreaks of measles in New Zealand were started by travellers bringing the disease from overseas. There are currently significant measles outbreaks in many countries.

For more information:

· Toi Te Ora Public Health website

· Immunisation Advisory Centre free phone: 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863)

· Immunisation Advisory Centre website

· Ministry of Health 2019 measles outbreak information