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Public Health measles work ongoing

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While work continues to help support those impacted by measles, no new cases have been identified. One patient was hospitalised but has been discharged.

Since the beginning of the month, there have been six measles cases identified at IPU New Zealand, and it is not known where the outbreak originated from. Measles is not endemic to New Zealand, so the infection will most likely have originated from overseas at some point.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Rob Weir said: “All six patients have been released from quarantine and are doing well. Non-immune contacts continue to stay in isolation and this will continue until they have been cleared, which depends on the date of their potential exposure.”

Vaccination clinics at IPU have continued and currently approximately 220 staff and students have been vaccinated for measles. All people identified as contacts are being offered free vaccinations, regardless of their eligibility to publicly funded health care, for this outbreak.

In New Zealand for people eligible for publicly funded health care both the vaccine and the appointment to receive it is free for anyone born in 1969 onwards – people born before that date are considered to be immune, as they were most likely exposed to the virus. In order to arrange you or your family’s vaccination please contact your general practice team or 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863) for more information on the vaccine.

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. 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.”

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. It’s important that if you think you have measles to contact your GP (by phone first) or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for more advice.

Dr Weir said: “We’re grateful for the cooperation and goodwill by all those involved, especially staff and students at IPU. The number of vaccinations that have been given is extremely pleasing and helps make our community safer.”

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