Call ahead and stay in your car.

That is what people who think they have measles are being told to do by Rotorua health professionals as staff deal with a flurry of calls about the potentially deadly disease.

The advice comes as national health authorities battle to control measles as it sweeps across the country.

As of yesterday, there were 1051 confirmed cases across New Zealand with 877 in the Auckland region - since the beginning of the year.


Toi Te Ora Public Health figures show there had been 29 cases of measles in the Western Bay of Plenty, three cases in Rotorua and six in Taupo since January 1.

Dr Phil Shoemack, Medical Officer of Health for Toi Te Ora said the most recent case was an adult male who contracted measles in Rotorua.

The unimmunised man was admitted to hospital last week and had been discharged over the weekend.

Medical Officer of Health for Toi Te Ora Public Health, Dr Phil Shoemack. Photo / File
Medical Officer of Health for Toi Te Ora Public Health, Dr Phil Shoemack. Photo / File

He said the diagnosis was confirmed by a laboratory result which was received after the man had been discharged.

Shoemack said test results for two possible cases in the Western Bay of Plenty were currently been waited on.

As at June 30, 82 per cent of Rotorua 5-year-olds had two doses of MMR, he said.

The national Ministry of Health target rate was 95 per cent.

He said this generation was "lucky" to have access to vaccines and he was not aware of any shortage of the MMR vaccine in the region.


"We don't see childhood diseases because of the effectiveness of vaccinations and tend to forget how serious these childhood illnesses are."

Measles is one of the most infectious airborne diseases.

All of the health clinics the Rotorua Daily Post spoke to had experienced an increase in enquiries about measles symptoms and immunisation statuses.

Rotorua area primary health services chief executive Kristin Stone said outbreaks in New Zealand had been prevented in the past by high immunisation rates.

Many children in Rotorua were at risk since the coverage rate of childhood immunisation was less than the national target of 95 per cent, meaning an outbreak was only "a matter of time".

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Pikiao pepi moko tamaiti nurse Shirley Ruaine said people were not taking the risk seriously enough as most had not seen the impact of some illnesses that had previously been managed by widespread immunisation.

"I think there's a lot of complacency."

The community outreach nurse said the "low socio-economic, high needs" population was most at risk - particularly those who lived in temporary accommodation.

She urged people to get information about vaccination from sources other than social media.

"Arm yourself with knowledge and take into consideration the impact on other children."

Korowai Aroha chief executive Hariata Vercoe said the clinic had signage out instructing people to call ahead and stay in their car.

Masks were also available and an isolation room was set up for use if required.

Ranolf Medical Centre nurse practitioner Rose Rowarth said the clinic had a limited stock of MMR vaccines and young children who had not yet been vaccinated were prioritised.

Possible measles cases were seen in their car or in an isolation room, and kept on a register to follow up, she said.

She urged people to be "socially responsible" and avoid large gatherings if they felt unwell.

Measles symptoms
- Symptoms include fever, runny nose, sore red eyes and cough, followed a few days later by a rash usually starting on the face before moving down the body.