Residents in Hamilton are being urged to check their measles immunity status after a person infected with the serious viral illness may have unwittingly spread it in the area.
Waikato District Health Board is urging anybody who visited the same five shops as the infected person between April 10 and 15 to watch for signs and symptoms of the illness, especially if their vaccinations are not up to date.
The contagious person visited Hamilton branches of Bunnings, New World and Pak 'n Save, as well as Anglesea Pharmacy and the Clean As Laundromat, according to Medical Officer of Health Dr Richard Vipond.
"The Waikato DHB public health team has confirmed a case of measles in a person who caught the disease overseas before returning to New Zealand," Vipond said.
"This is unrelated to the recent cases in the South Island."
Vipond said measles is a highly infectious illness and people who share the same air as someone while they were infectious may be at risk of developing the disease if they are not already immune.
People who visited the following stores during these time periods are recommended to check their immune status with their GP:
• Bunnings, Kahikatea Drive, April 10 to 14;
• New World, Glenview, April 12, 10.15 to 10.45am and 8pm to 8.20pm and April 13, 8pm to 8.20pm;
• Pak 'n Save, Clarence St, April 15 8.45am to 9.15am;
• Anglesea Clinic Pharmacy, April 15 8.30am to 9am;
• Clean As Laundromat, Kahikatea Drive, April 15 6.30pm to 7pm.
People most at risk of contracting the disease are those who have not had the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine or who have had just one dose of the vaccine.
Anyone born before 1969 is likely to be immune from the disease without having had the vaccine.
Vipond said measles was a serious illness and many measles cases required hospital treatment.
"Measles is infectious for several days before the characteristic rash appears and is very easily transmitted from one person to another through the air."
He said anyone who visited the stores at those times and feels they may be unwell should telephone their doctor or call Healthline on 0800 611-116 for advice.
"People should not go directly to a doctor's office or to a hospital emergency department, but call first because measles is highly infectious and people with measles can infect others in the waiting room.
"The only way to protect from measles and the best way to avoid its complications is to be fully vaccinated," Vipond said.
People who visited the above stores should check that they have had two MMR vaccines, he said.
"Catch up vaccinations are free, so we encourage everyone to check their immunisation status and if they are not immune to be vaccinated."
The time delay from being exposed to measles to developing symptoms is usually 8-14 days, but can be longer. The typical symptoms of measles are:
• The first symptoms are a fever, and one or more symptoms of a runny nose, cough and sore red eyes;
• After a few days a red blotchy rash comes on and lasts up to one week. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body;
• Children and adults with measles are often very sick.
How to protect yourself and your family against measles
• Make sure you and your children are fully immunised. Check your immunisation status with your GP.
• Measles can't be treated once you get it, so the only way to prevent the disease is through free immunisation.