FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
15 June 2011
Latest Auckland measles outbreak continues
Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has confirmed 17 cases of measles in what is the second large outbreak in Auckland this year, almost all in unimmunised people.
All cases are linked to Oratia Primary School and people in their households and three have required hospitalisation.
Though the outbreak has not yet spread to other areas, the number of new cases highlights that measles is a highly contagious disease that can spread easily from one person to another.
Medical Officer of Health Dr Richard Hoskins says ARPHS is taking appropriate steps to trace people who may have been exposed through interaction with the cases while they were infectious – including exclusions at some schools and early childhood centres. More than 200 individuals, as well as large groups such as schools, have been traced so far.
“Measles must be taken very seriously, especially as we are seeing an increase in the number of cases presenting,” says Dr Hoskins. “It is a disease that can have severe complications, especially in vulnerable groups in the community, including children too young to be immunised, pregnant women, and those with suppressed immunity.”
“It is ARPHS’ role to protect these groups and try and break the chain of transmission; this is why we ask that people who have been excluded remain at home and away from school/work, group and social activities, sports and recreation events and public places such as cinemas and shopping malls for a specified period. And as always, we urge people to be vigilant if they suspect they could have measles, or have been exposed to someone who could have measles.”
“Getting measles can be avoided by immunisation with the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, which is typically given in two doses, at 15 months and 4 years of age,” says Dr Hoskins. “Immunisation not only protects your child from serious illness, but also protects more vulnerable children and members of the community who could suffer more serious illness or death.”
For more information, call:
Cell 021 938 431
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, please 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 for all families. 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.