Some Auckland doctors are refusing to see patients with measles in the clinic and are opting to see them in their cars instead.

This comes as two Aucklanders have been infected by the highly contagious and potentially lethal disease this month. A further 25 people have also been confirmed to have contracted measles in Canterbury.

Now, doctors are taking extreme measures to control the spread.

"No one can be in the practice if they have been in contact with measles - the doctor will see you or your child in the car outside." - that was the information patients at Birkdale Family Doctors were told this week.

Advertisement

Auckland Primary Health Organisation ProCare says this is not an uncommon practice due to measles being a highly contagious disease.

Associate clinical director at ProCare Dr Jamie Shepherd told the Herald this was not a unreasonable request as it's a good way to keep the wider population safe and to isolate infection.

"This would be especially important if you didn't have a spare consulting room or a room that could be accessed from the back of a surgery or side door, and would keep someone with possible infection isolated," Shepherd said.

He also said if someone has had measles and was in a consulting room then that room does need to be shut down for 24 hours and cleaned so suggesting patients be treated in the car is quite sensible.

"In theory a thorough assessment of patients is possible in any location, being mindful of privacy a car therefore is a reasonable option to reduce harm to the general public," Shepherd said.

Birkdale Family Doctors advised patients to ring for an appointment if there was concern about measles.

"We will advise you further when you call," the general practice's newsletter said.

Children aged 6 to 12 months who had been in contact with measles or who are travelling overseas to a country with a measles outbreak were instructed to ring the medical centre as soon as possible.

Children who are 12 months or older can have an early MMR vaccination.

Likewise, young ones who are 15 months up to three years can also have an early vaccination as long as it is four weeks after the first one.

All adults under 50 should have had two MMR vaccinations and were advised to make an appointment with a GP if unsure.

The latest about the measles outbreak:

Two cases in Auckland and 25 in Canterbury have been confirmed.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service medical officer of health Dr William Rainger said the organisation had been notified of a young adult and an infant who both had measles and could have spread them to others they came into contact with.

The adult was at the Matakana market on the morning of Sunday March 3 and at an event at the Life Central Church in Normanby Rd on the evening of March 6.

People at the Wesley market on the morning of Friday March 8 may have also been exposed to the disease because the infant was at the International Women's Day event there.

Rainger said anyone who was in any of those locations at the time should be aware that they may have been in contact with the airborne virus and needed to watch for symptoms - a high fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes, followed by a rash starting around the head and spreading to the body.

An outbreak of the disease in Canterbury has risen to at least 25 people infected, with the number likely to rise in the coming days.

The two cases were not considered to be linked to any cases in the Canterbury outbreak. Auckland had its first case of measles this year 10 days ago.

The Canterbury outbreak started about two weeks ago, with vaccine supplies meant to last a month being used up in two days.

Canterbury District Health Board is racing to get vulnerable people in the region vaccinated.

The DHB said under-immunised people who came within two metres of an infectious person, however briefly, had a 90 per cent chance of contracting measles.

It said the best protection from the disease was for people to have two doses (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations.

What do I do if I haven't been immunised against measles?

You can be immunised at any time if you have missed your two vaccinations. Many adolescents aren't fully protected, and many people born after 1969 and before 1992 will have received only one MMR vaccine. These people are entitled to the second MMR dose free of charge. Practice nurse fees may apply.

Is measles a current concern?

Yes. There are currently measles outbreaks all over the world, including here in New Zealand. There has been one case in Auckland and there are currently a number of cases in Canterbury.

How serious is measles?

Measles is a serious illness. One in 10 people with measles need hospital treatment and the most serious cases can result in deafness or swelling of the brain.

Measles is one of the most infectious airborne diseases and a person is contagious before the rash appears. It is very easily transmitted from one person to another, possibly by being in a room where an infected person has been.

I'm about to travel to a country that has a measles outbreak. What should I do?

The Ministry of Health is advising anyone travelling overseas to be up to date with their MMR vaccinations. In addition, the Ministry recommends that infants aged 6-15 months travelling to countries where there is a current measles outbreak be given MMR vaccine before they travel. This is an additional vaccination for those infants – they will still need their usual MMR vaccinations at 15 months and four years old.

What are the symptoms of measles?

Measles symptoms include a high fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes, followed by a rash starting behind the ears and spreading to the body a few days later.

How can I protect myself and my family against measles?

The best way to prevent measles is to be immunised on time, with two free MMR vaccinations for all children at 15 months and four years. Two doses of MMR vaccine are at least 97 per cent effective in preventing measles.

What does MMR stand for?

MMR stands for measles, mumps and rubella, as the MMR vaccine provides protection against all three of these illnesses.

What do I do if I've only had one of the two MMR vaccine doses?

If you've only had one dose, you are entitled to a second one free of charge. Practice nurse fees may apply.

I don't know whether I've been immunised or not. What should I do?

If you are not sure how many doses you have had, talk to your doctor as the information may be in your medical records. You may also have your own health records e.g. your Plunket or Well Child/Tamariki Ora book. If it's unclear whether you are immune, or whether you've had two doses, vaccination is recommended. Check with your GP first as in some instances, such as pregnancy, you should not be immunised.

If I've been in contact with someone with measles, how long will it be before I know if I've caught it?

It usually takes 10 to 14 days for someone who has caught measles to start showing symptoms.

Are there sufficient supplies of MMR vaccine?

Auckland Regional Public Health Service isn't aware of any vaccine supply concerns for the Auckland region.

Where can I seek advice or find out more about measles?

For more information or advice on measles, please call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see the Ministry of Health's measles page.