Home > All news > Measles outbreak in the Waikato – UPDATE – 20 April 2016

Measles outbreak in the Waikato – UPDATE – 20 April 2016

Waikato DHB Population Health has now been notified of a fourth confirmed case of measles and a fifth suspect case. All four cases attended the Waikato Hospital Emergency Department on the Friday 25 March, Monday 4 April, Saturday 9 April, Sunday 17 April and Tuesday 19 April respectively.

It is possible that two of the cases picked up the infection when attending the Waikato Hospital Emergency Department for other reasons. This demonstrates how highly infectious measles can be, (including before symptoms develop) and how seriously ill those infected can become. We strongly recommend everyone should check their vaccination status and get vaccinated as soon as possible if you are overdue for your MMR vaccine.

A fifth suspect case of measles is under investigation. They had attended the school Nga Taiatea Wharekura where a previous case had been present at the school while infectious but before becoming unwell. Two of the 5 cases have required admission to hospital.

People who shared the same air as someone while they were infectious with measles (e.g. being in the same room) may be at risk of developing the disease if they are not already immune.

Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease and anyone who has had at least two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination is considered immune.  People most at risk of contracting the disease are those who have either not had the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine, or who have just had one dose of the vaccine.

If you were exposed, there are a number of measles symptoms to look out for. The incubation period for measles is approximately two weeks meaning it can take up to two weeks from exposure to show symptoms. The first symptoms of measles are a fever, and one or more of a runny nose, cough and sore red eyes. After a few days a red blotchy rash comes on, usually starting on the face before spreading to the body and lasts up to one week.

Measles can be very serious. If you or your child becomes unwell please phone your GP or call Health line on 0800 611 116 for advice or seek medical attention depending on severity of illness. It is important to call first because measles is highly infectious, and people with measles can infect others around them for example in waiting rooms of GP surgeries or ED. Measles is spread by tiny droplets in the air and is one of the few diseases that can spread so easily to those nearby.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Felicity Dumble says this is a timely reminder to everyone to check that they and their children are fully immunised against measles. Vaccination affords full immunity in the vast majority of cases.

People who are regarded as not immune to measles are:

  • People younger born after 01 January 1969 who have not had two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine or have not had a laboratory result showing immunity
  • If a student from an infected school has only had one MMR vaccine they can receive a second MMR vaccine and return to school (as long as the vaccines are given four weeks apart)
  • Children over four years old who have not received their second dose of MMR vaccine
  • Infants under the age of 15 months who have not received their first routine dose of MMR vaccine.  They are susceptible and rely on everyone else to be immune so that measles does not spread to them

Visit www.waikatodhb.health.nz/measles for Waikato measles information

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