New Case of Measles in Northland

Press Release – Northland District Health Board

A woman with measles was admitted to Whangarei Hospital ICU on Saturday 25 May and is in a stable condition.

After travelling to the Philippines, the woman travelled back to New Zealand in early May and developed signs and symptoms of measles about two weeks later. She presented at Whangarei Hospital last week, was clinically diagnosed with measles and treated as such.

“This is the third case of measles that has originated from outside of Northland, the fourth case in Northland year to date, and, this reinforces that we must be vigilant in protecting Northlanders from this disease,” Medical Officer of Health Dr Virginia McLaughlin said.

“With over 100 contacts being followed up by the Public Health team I want to emphasise that immunisation is the only way to stop a measles outbreak, make no mistake measles can be a very serious illness, and is easily prevented by vaccination.”

There has been limited exposure within public spaces whilst she was infectious, however, there is a low risk for people attending Kensington Stadium on Friday 17 May between about 6.20pm and 8.30pm.

Anyone who was at the stadium during this time is encouraged to contact the Public Health Unit on 0800 600 720.

The community need to be very aware of the symptoms of measles which starts with a fever and cough and runny nose and sore red eyes and then after three or four days a rash appears on the face and then spreads to the body.

“For those people in our community who have made an effort to make sure they are up to date with their vaccinations, we’d like to say thanks for doing the right thing for your community. For those who are still thinking about it – now is the time to act. Don’t delay.”

Anyone believing they have been exposed to measles or exhibiting symptoms should not go to the ED or after hours’ clinic or general practitioner. Instead call Healthline free on 0800 611 116 for advice and information from a trusted registered nurse, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Almost everyone aged 50 or older had measles as a child and are therefore immune. Teenagers and young adults are least likely to have been immunised as young children. If you’re not sure of your vaccination history, you can check your Well Child/Tamariki Ora (or Plunket) book, or ask your general practice.

People aged 15 months to 50 years who have not previously been vaccinated against measles can be vaccinated if their general practice has sufficient supplies of the vaccine.

Practices may need to defer appointments for catch up immunisations for a few weeks if vaccine stocks are low.

A person who has been given one dose of the MMR vaccine has a 95 percent chance of being immune to the virus. More than 99 percent of people who receive two MMR doses (given at least four weeks apart, and the first dose given after age 12 months) develop immunity to measles.

It’s important to check you are up to date with your immunisations, especially if you’re travelling overseas. See the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule for a list of free immunisations and the ages at which they’re recommended.

Go to the DHB website www.northlanddhb.org.nz for more information about the signs and symptoms of measles and what to do if you are concerned.

In 2019 there have been outbreaks of measles in Canterbury (now declared over), Auckland and Bay of Plenty. Cases have also been reported in the Waikato, Lakes, Capital and Coast, and Southern DHB areas. In New Zealand there have been 149 confirmed cases reported up to the 22 May, with at least 44 additional cases under investigation.

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