Sally-Anne Isaako's daughter Eden caught measles at the start of August. But it took more than two weeks before she was diagnosed.

On the first GP visit, Eden's symptoms were put down to a virus. Then on August 13 her daycare, Manurewa ABC Learning, rang to say a child had measles and Eden might be exposed. The 6-month-old was getting sicker, with fever, conjunctivitis and no appetite, so that call rang "loud alarm bells", Isaako told the Herald.

At a second GP visit staff examined Eden in the carpark before pronouncing her measles-free as she had not developed a rash within the incubation period.

That week Eden got very sick. Her third visit was on a Sunday, to a different doctor, who took a mouth swab and quickly diagnosed measles. By that stage she had the telltale rash and Isaako was ready to head to hospital.


But the rash was relatively mild, and the doctor said she would be okay - suggesting Isaako may have passed on partial immunity by breastfeeding.

Even a mild case made for a very sick baby, with a serious cough that made her turn blue as she worked to breathe.

"I hadn't slept for two weeks ... she was up every 45 minutes. She wouldn't eat, she just wanted milk," Isaako says. "I would have to watch her like a hawk when she was sleeping because that cough was just volatile."

Sally Anne Isaako says it took two weeks for her daughter Eden Isaako age 7 months to be diagnosed with measles. Photo / Dean Purcell
Sally Anne Isaako says it took two weeks for her daughter Eden Isaako age 7 months to be diagnosed with measles. Photo / Dean Purcell

Eden has finally recovered and is beginning to smile again but the past month had been horrible, Isaako said.

Daycare had been "phenomenal" and put all the right precautions in place, including sending all kids under 12 months home for two weeks. But there was only so much they could do if other kids weren't immunised, Isaako said.

Isaako, 37, has always been pro-vaccine and is urging other parents to make the same choice.

The rest of her children and her husband are fully vaccinated and all have been fine.

"My concern is for babies under 12 months that are so vulnerable to it," she said. "It's about protecting others, and more importantly, about protecting their own children."


Isaako has been stuck at home with the baby for four weeks. She couldn't pick her kids up from school or go to the supermarket, and her university study is on hold. But despite the frustration she considers herself and her family fortunate.

"I'm very lucky because the doctor says my breast milk really shielded her from a lot of it. If I wasn't breastfeeding it could have been a lot worse."