The Three Little Birds daycare centre at Tikipunga was stuck in the middle of a measles scare. Photo / John Stone
A little boy who attended a Whangārei childcare centre has been cleared of having measles after it was reported his was the region's fifth case.
However, two new cases have since been confirmed elsewhere in the community, meaning the region does have a fifth and now sixth case.
When the alarm over the suspected child's case was raised last week the Three little Birds childcare centre in Tikipunga went into voluntary shutdown.
Staff and children who did not have full immunisation were asked to remain in isolation for 14 days to prevent any chance of passing on or contracting the highly infectious disease.
But the Northland District Health Board (NDHB) yesterday confirmed the initial results from tests carried out at a laboratory in Auckland had returned a ''false positive''. Further testing over the weekend proved the child did not have measles.
"We were delighted to be able to inform the daycare centre staff and attendees over the weekend that they were no longer required to be in isolation,'' Dr Simon Baker, locum Medical Officer of Health, said.
The daycare centre had adhered to the isolation protocol until the test results were finalised, he said.
Three Little Birds' operations manager, Elysa Schuster, said the experience had been stressful for everyone, including the unwell child and his family, but had shown the centre's action plans were sound.
''The reason we had to close was because we could not confirm if we had enough immunised staff to stay open,'' Schuster said. ''We now have the information that everyone has been immunised.''
She said the difficult few days were made worse by negative feedback via social media and other community posts, accusing the daycare centre of being lax.
''That's so unfair, we did everything by the book. This could have happened anywhere.''
Schuster said the big message from the measles scare was that parents needed to get their children immunised, and for everyone to check their health records.
The DHB said the centre had acted responsibly when measles was suspected in one of its children.
NDHB microbiologist Dr David Hammer said that each potential case needed to be treated with high suspicion until proven otherwise.
''Although nucleic acid amplification tests are usually extremely accurate, no test is perfect, and occasionally we will encounter false positive and false negative results.''
The two latest confirmed cases of measles affect family members of a 19-year-old netballer who was admitted to ICU with a complication of measles.
Two premier netball teams were put in isolation after coming in contact with that player who had measles during a match between two Northland teams on May 17.
The two new cases are now in isolation, and the 19-year-old is well on the road to recovery, a DHB spokesman said.
Thirty-six people, including the two teams, were put into home isolation following that case.
The DHB has since identified over 100 contacts and is working to find who has or has not got evidence of immunity.
Isolation means staying at home and not having visitors who are not immune to measles. That includes not using public transport, going to work, preschool, school, visiting neighbours, friends or family, to church, social or sports activities, movie theatres, supermarkets and shops.
"We understand the significant impact of isolation. However, this is the only way we can minimise the spread of this highly infectious disease,'' Hammer said.
"Immunisation is the only way to prevent measles. Make no mistake measles can be a severe illness. If you are exposed and not immune, you will be placed in isolation if required.''
People are asked to check their children's vaccination history in their Well Child/Tamariki Ora (or Plunket) book, or ask at the family's general practice.
Those aged 15 months to 50 years who have not previously been vaccinated can be vaccinated at their general practice. Teenagers and young adults are least likely to have been immunised. Almost everyone aged 50 or older had measles as a child and are therefore immune.