FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
22 June 2011
Update on Auckland Measles Outbreak
Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has now confirmed 26 cases of measles in the largest outbreak in Auckland this year.
The majority of cases are clearly linked to the measles cases first identified at Oratia Primary School, which started when a non-immunised pupil returned from England via Singapore and developed measles.
There are, however, three cases ARPHS hasn’t yet been able to link to any of the other cases, highlighting the highly contagious nature of measles.
The immunisation status of confirmed cases is as follows:
- 24 cases in unimmunised people
- 2 cases that possibly had one measles immunisation overseas.
Three cases required earlier hospitalisation.
ARPHS Medical Officer of health Dr Richard Hoskins says ARPHS is continuing to take appropriate steps to trace and contact people who may have been exposed through interaction with the cases while they were infectious.
“Most of the cases have now developed while people were in quarantine,” says Dr Hoskins. “This means these people are only likely to pass the infection on further to other household members who are not immunised.”
Well over 300 people have been traced as contacts; those with no immunity are asked to stay in quarantine at home to limit the spread should they develop measles.
Dr Hoskins says ARPHS has also advised quarantine for susceptible people at some Auckland schools (including Epsom Girls Grammar School and AGC Parnell College) and early childhood centres, and within some sports teams, where there is a high risk of measles spreading to people who are unimmunised.
“Measles is a serious illness and must be taken seriously,” says Dr Hoskins. “It can have severe complications, especially in vulnerable groups in the community. We urge people to be vigilant if they suspect they could have measles, or have been exposed to someone who could have measles.”
“Immunisation is the only way to avoid getting measles. The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is usually given in two doses at 15 months and 4 years of age, however, it is never too late to get immunised,” says Dr Hoskins. “We strongly recommend ensuring you and your children are protected by being up to date with immunisations.”
For more information, call:
Communication and Information Coordinator
Cell 021 243 2421
If you think you or someone in your care has measles
Prompt identification can help limit the spread of measles to others. If you or anyone in your care displays common symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, sore eyes and fever, followed by a raised red rash that starts on the face and moves to cover the rest of the body, seek immediate medical help – contact Healthline on 0800 611 116 or your local doctor. Phone ahead before visiting a doctor to minimise the spread of infection to others in the waiting room.
It is also important that if you suspect you may have measles, or you have had contact with someone suspected to have measles and you are not immune, that you remain in isolation to limit the spread of the disease.
How do I know if I’m immune?
People born before 1969 or who have received two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) or who have had measles in the past are considered to be immune.
Immunisation is the only effective way to protect against the disease. If you or any children in your care are not up to date with immunisations, then contact your GP or practice nurse and arrange to catch up as soon as possible. MMR is given in two doses, normally at 15 months and 4 years of age giving over 95% protection. However, it’s never too late to get immunised.
More information on immunisation
For information on immunisation, phone the Immunisation Advisory Centre free on 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863) or visit them at www.immune.org.nz.
Call Healthline for free health advice
Healthline (0800 611 116) is a free 24-hour telephone health information service. The service is staffed by registered nurses who will assess your health needs, and give information and advice to help you decide on the best level of care.
Healthline’s Language Line operates Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. When you call Healthline during these hours, the nurse or call handler can usually arrange for an interpreter. Outside these hours Healthline uses other interpreter services as far as possible. It is not always possible to locate an interpreter in a particular language at short notice.