Thursday May 2, 2019
Measles in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes – Update #7
Since yesterday’s report, a further three cases of measles have been confirmed in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts, bringing the total number of confirmed measles cases to seventeen since the start of April. Each of the three new cases is a resident of the Western Bay of Plenty, one of whom is known to have had contact with a previous case.
“Our team is working to identify people who may have been in contact with each case,” says Dr Phil Shoemack, Medical Officer of Health for Toi Te Ora Public Health.
“It’s important everyone remains vigilant and looks for the signs and symptoms of measles, no matter where you are located. If you think you or someone in your family/whānau may have measles, please stay at home and phone your doctor or Healthline first. The first early symptoms of measles are 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.”
“Measles is one of the most infectious viruses, so it is important that we try to limit the spread,” says Dr Shoemack. The Healthline number is 0800 611 116.
Check your immunity to measles
Measles is a very infectious viral illness that spreads easily from person to person. It can be serious with about one in ten affected people needing hospital treatment.
The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is very effective in preventing measles.
“It’s important that parents ensure their children receive their free routine MMR immunisations on time at 15 months and 4 years of age,” says Dr Shoemack.
“If for any reason you have never had a dose of MMR vaccine now is the time to get one,” says Dr Shoemack. “After just one dose of MMR vaccine about 95% of people will be protected from measles, and 99% of people who have had two MMR doses will be protected from measles.”
People born before 1 January 1969 are considered to be immune because virtually everyone got measles prior to the vaccine being introduced that year, and so this older age group does not need the measles immunisation.
It is particularly important to check your immunity if you are planning an overseas trip. The Ministry of Health recently highlighted that since 2012, all outbreaks of measles in New Zealand were started by travellers bringing the disease from overseas. There are currently significant measles outbreaks in many countries.
For more information:
Toi Te Ora Public Health website: www.toiteora.govt.nz/measles
Immunisation Advisory Centre free phone: 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863)
Immunisation Advisory Centre website: 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
Ministry of Health website: www.health.govt.nz/measles
Don't Assume You're Immune website: www.getimmunised.org.nz
Image caption: Dr Phil Shoemack says that there is measles in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes and if, for any reason, you missed your childhood measles immunisations, now is the time to get a dose of MMR vaccine.