Waiopehu College and Levin Intermediate School in Levin were closed today after joint discussions between MidCentral DHB’s Public Health Service and the schools.
The closures come after there were two further confirmed measles cases in the Horowhenua identified from contact tracing yesterday, which are related to the current Waikato measles outbreak. In total there have now been three cases of measles confirmed in the district this week.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr Rob Weir said: “The school closures today were joint decisions as part of discussions regarding this situation. The schools involved have approached this issue in a very responsible manner. We recognise there will be disruption to the school and the community, but we are doing everything possible in conjunction with the school to stop it spreading.”
Dr Weir said: “The MidCentral Public Health Service is following up on contacts of these latest cases. Those contacts are being asked for information about their vaccination status to determine if they are at risk of developing measles themselves.”
Dr Weir reminded people: “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.
“These cases remind us that measles can occur at any time. Vaccination is the best way 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 vaccinated.
Routinely children are vaccinated at 15 months and four years and need both MMR vaccinations to gain full immunity from measles.”
Dr Weir said: “Anyone who thinks they may have measles should stay away from work, school or public places. 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.
Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945