In addition, babies aged six months to 11 months who are travelling to Auckland or overseas to a country that has an active outbreak of measles are also advised to be immunised against measles.
MidCentral’s Public Health Service has confirmed a child who has recently returned from Samoa has contracted measles. This is the ninth case of measles in the region since the start of the year.
The child is in isolation and advice is being provided to close contacts of the child. Those who are not immune to measles have been advised to stay in isolation until 14 days after their last exposure to the infectious child.
The child has also been round public areas in Palmerston North and Feilding while infectious and before knowing they had measles so other members of the public may also have been exposed to the disease.
MidCentral Medical Officer of Health Dr Rob Weir reminded people that measles is a very infectious disease.
“Anyone who is not immune to measles is at risk if they come in to contact with the disease. It spreads from person to person through the air from breathing, coughing and sneezing, and contact with those secretions. The disease is contagious from just before symptoms begin until about five days after onset of the rash. The illness usually starts between 10 and 14 days after contact with the measles virus.
“If you think you might have measles I recommend you contact your GP, by phone first, or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for more advice. It is very important you tell your GP that you think you might have measles before going in to the surgery.”
Measles symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, and sore red eyes. After three to five days a rash appears on the head and spreads down the body.
The MMR vaccine is available (free) from your GP or healthcare centre. Priority for vaccination is for non-immunised children aged 15 months to five years, and for those aged between 6 months and 50 years who are travelling to Auckland or the Pacific Islands. If you are travelling, it is important to have the vaccination at least two weeks before you leave.
People are advised to call their General Practice Team to book in for a vaccination.