A serious measles outbreak in Auckland has prompted the local Medical Officer of Health for the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts to urge local residents to check they are up to date with their immunisations before travelling to Auckland, particularly South Auckland.
Medical Officer of Health for Toi Te Ora Public Health Dr Jim Miller said the size of the measles outbreak in South Auckland, and the fact that it continued to grow was concerning.
"Immunisation uptake in our area is not currently high enough to prevent outbreaks here. Measles is a serious disease; almost half of the people who have had measles in our area this year have ended up in hospital," he said.
Toi Te Ora Public Health said immunisation was very effective in preventing measles. The vaccine that protects against measles is the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. This is usually given to children at 15 months of age with a booster at 4 years.
"People planning to travel to Auckland or overseas with children under 15 months should ask their healthcare provider about earlier vaccination," Miller said.
Adults born before 1969 are generally considered to be immune, but everyone else should be up to date with their MMR immunisation. Contact your doctor to book you or your child's MMR immunisation, or to check to see if you are immune to measles.
"It is vital that you check whether you are at risk from measles. Otherwise you risk bringing measles home from your travels, or being part of our next local outbreak," Miller said.
Measles symptoms include a 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.
If you think you or someone in your family may have measles, stay at home and phone your doctor to alert them of your symptoms and allow them to make arrangements to assess you safely and without infecting other people.
Do not just turn up to your GP, after-hours or emergency department without phoning ahead because you could spread the virus to others.
Alternatively, call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.
For more information about measles go to:
• Toi Te Ora Public Health website: www.toiteora.govt.nz/measles
• Immunisation Advisory Centre: 0800 IMMUNE (466 863) or www.immune.org.nz
• Ministry of Health 2019 measles outbreak information: www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/measles/2019-measles-outbreak-information
• Measles is a highly infectious viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing.
• People are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash to five days after the rash starts.
• Infected people should stay in isolation - staying home from school or work - during this time.
• The best protection from measles is to have two MMR vaccinations. MMR is available from your family practice and is free for people aged 1-50 years.
• People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.
• If you are concerned about measles call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or your GP. Please do not just turn up to your GP, after-hours or emergency department because you could potentially infect others.