While MidCentral district currently has no confirmed cases of measles, pregnant women who have never received a measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccination are advised to stay vigilant if the measles outbreak were to reach our region.
Canterbury is currently experiencing a measles outbreak, while further cases have also been confirmed in Auckland and Dunedin.
Dr Weir said non-immunised women who became ill with measles while pregnant risked miscarriage, premature labour and low birth weight infants.
“Pregnant women who think they have measles, or have come in to contact with someone with measles, must call their general practice or lead maternity carer as soon as possible,” Weir said.
“If you were immunised against measles prior to becoming pregnant, you are almost certainly protected. You can reduce your chances of catching measles if the people you are in close contact with, eg, close friends, family and work colleagues, are immune.
“Encourage close friends, family and work colleages to check whether they have been vaccinated, and to contact their general practice to make a vaccination appointment if they have not.”
Weir said if you had not been immunised against measles before becoming pregnant, you should not receive the MMR vaccine during pregnancy.
Women of child-bearing age should avoid pregnancy for one month after having a dose of MMR vaccine.
Breastfeeding mothers can receive the MMR vaccine safely.
The vaccine is normally given at 15 months and 4 years, and General Practices in MidCentral continue to follow this schedule.
Measles is a serious disease that spreads quickly. About 30 per cent of people with measles will develop complications.
If unimmunised people are exposed to measles, they also risk spreading the virus to vulnerable people, including babies, pregnant women, cancer patients and others who are unable to be immunised.
People who are exposed to measles and cannot prove their immunity will need to be quarantined until 14 days after their last exposure. This means staying at home and missing out on things like school, work, sporting competitions and social events.
Symptoms of measles can include fever, runny nose, and sore watery red eyes that can last for several days before a red blotchy rash appears. People are infectious from five days before the rash appears to five days after.
If you think you might have measles, Dr Weir recommends you contact your GP (by phone first) or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for more advice.