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Suspected case at PNGHS not measles

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A suspected case at Palmerston North Girls’ High School has tested negative for measles, as shown by results received late this afternoon.

​The number of confirmed cases of measles in the MidCentral District Health Board region is 14, after two more Horowhenua cases were confirmed late yesterday afternoon.

Palmerston North Girls’ High School decided to close on Friday 3 June as a precaution to prevent the spread of measles in their school community. This decision was made in consultation with the MidCentral Public Health Service. The school can now return to business as usual. 

Concern remains about the spread of measles in Horowhenua, and people who have been asked to stay in isolation by medical authorities because of possible contact with a person/people infected with measles need to follow these instructions and stay in isolation.

Medical Officer of Health Rob Weir is concerned that some people asked to go into home isolation to prevent further spread of measles have not done so. This is putting more people at risk and adding to disruption to schools and community activities.

“The current measles outbreak is very serious. Around 16 percent of people infected with measles in the current outbreak affecting New Zealand have needed hospital-level care. Severe chest infections commonly result from measles, and more serious complications such as brain infections are also possible. Permanent brain damage or even deaths can result.” 

“We need as much help as possible from the community to stop this outbreak spreading in Horowhenua and further afield. If you or people in your family have been asked to go into home isolation, please follow these instructions.”

Staying in home isolation means just that. Do not leave the home to go to school, work, to meet with friends or family, to go to any public places, sports or community events or gatherings. This is to protect those members of our community who are most vulnerable to the disease, including babies too young to be vaccinated, people with weak immune systems, and pregnant women.

Measles can spread to others before you start to feel unwell, and several days before the rash appears. This means that you may be asked to stay in home isolation even if you feel completely well. To do otherwise puts other people at risk. 

The best protection against measles is vaccination and it is free for those who need it. You can protect both yourself and the community by getting vaccinated – two doses of the measles vaccine (MMR) is all you need to protect yourself, your family and your community. 

The initial symptoms of measles are very general in nature and shared with lots of other illnesses. These include fever, runny nose, cough, and sore red eyes. After 3-5 days a rash appears on the head and spreads down the body. Anyone who thinks they may have measles should stay away from work, school or public places. If you think you might have measles you should contact your GP or After Hours Clinic (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

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