A recent incident in Auckland, where many people were exposed to a measles case has prompted local health authorities to urge people to make sure they are fully immunised.
MidCentral DHB’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr Rob Weir says: “While no cases have been identified in the MidCentral district this year, it is an important reminder that immunisation is crucial for people to protect themselves against measles and is free to those who need it. You can protect both yourself and the community by getting immunised.”
Four confirmed cases of measles were diagnosed in the MidCentral district in May last year. A significant number of people in contact with these four cases were asked to go in to isolation in order to protect the wider community from measles. Being fully up to date with the MMR vaccination can avoid the need for isolation. However, if isolation is needed, the current Auckland incident shows the importance of this measure to ensure further spread is avoided.
Dr Weir said: “Measles is a very infectious disease so anyone who is not immune to measles is at risk if they come in to contact with the disease. Measles symptoms include: fever, runny nose, cough, and sore red eyes. After 3-5 days a rash appears on the head and spreads down the body. The disease spreads from person to person through the air from breathing, coughing and sneezing, and is contagious from just before symptoms begin until about five days after onset of the rash. There is no treatment for the disease and the complications can be severe, requiring hospital care.”
Dr Weir said: “The best way to protect yourself, your whānau/family, and the community against measles is to have two doses of the measles vaccine which is available through your GP or Practice Nurse. Measles vaccination is currently given in the MMR vaccine at 15 months and four years of age. If you didn’t receive two doses of the measles vaccine as a child you may be at risk of catching measles. I would suggest talking to your GP if you think you may need measles vaccination.”
If you think you may have measles you should stay away from work, school or public places to help prevent putting others at risk. You can phone your GP, Practice Nurse, or Healthline for advice on 0800 611 116.
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