A measles outbreak has kept little Grayson Partridge in quarantine at home as he's highly susceptible to contracting the disease while undergoing cancer treatment.

The 2-year-old from Whangārei was diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma - a rare cancer of the immune system - early last year, and chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant means any viral infection could be catastrophic.

To make matters worse, he can not be immunised for a few more years.

"We've pretty much disrupted our lives. We don't take him to public places. The last time we took him to a trampoline place in August, we found out there was a positive measles case at that place," mum Jody Partridge said.


Latest statistics from the Northland District Health Board shows the number of confirmed measles cases in Northland has reached 34 and people are being urged to have the MMR vaccination.

Jody said since Grayson had a bone marrow transplant and would be on treatment until December, he was more likely to get infections than others.

"His body has a small amount of strength just to keep on top of minor things. Something like a cough or a cold takes him a month to recover from.

"Measles cases are terrifying. It has kept us in quarantine. Every three weeks, we travel to the Starship Hospital in Auckland and it's very scary that there are measles cases at Starship," she said.

Grayson Partridge is very bubbly yet highly susceptible to viral infections, including measles. Photo/John Stone
Grayson Partridge is very bubbly yet highly susceptible to viral infections, including measles. Photo/John Stone

Grayson endured six months of chemotherapy, four months on a cancer therapy drug imported from the United Kingdom, and several more months of hardcore chemotherapy before a bone marrow transplant.

Northland DHB medical officer of health Dr Catherine Jackson said all of the recently confirmed measles cases in the region were as a result of someone catching the disease, either during a visit to Auckland, or through a visitor from that city before passing it on to others.

Of the 963 confirmed cases across the country, 804 are in Auckland, which is the only centre with an official outbreak declared so far.

To prevent recurrent outbreaks of measles, Jackson said an estimated 90 per cent of the population must be immune and 95 per cent of people must have had at least one MMR vaccination.


MMR immunisation is usually given at 15 months and four years of age.

"While most children in Northland are immunised, immunisation coverage has declined from close to 90 per cent of two-year-olds in 2016 to 82 per cent this year," Jackson said.

"There are also many years of historically lower coverage levels, so immunisation coverage drops down to around 70 per cent in Northland children now aged 11-12 years old.

"Northland's immunisation rate is a concern because it is not high enough to limit the spread of measles from person to person and the impending school holidays and the added challenge of several large inter-school competitions happening over the next week or two increases the risk of more measles cases."

Jackson said travelling and large gatherings were an ideal breeding ground for viruses like measles and urged the community to take up the free vaccination on offer which all New Zealanders were eligible for.