Medical Officer of Health, Dr Rob Weir says “MidCentral DHB had its third case of laboratory confirmed measles in approximately a month, last week.
Further investigation of this latest case has not identified any connection between the latest case and the two previous cases. It is of concern that there may be more than one source of measles infection in the community currently.”
“The latest case was in Palmerston North Hospital between Sunday, 31 May and Wednesday, 3 June. Anybody who was in the following locations (whether as a patient, visitor or for work) may have been in contact with the infectious case :
• Palmerston North Emergency Department from 8.30pm 31 May to 3.15am 1 June
• Medical Assessment and Planning Unit (MAPU) or Ward 27, Palmerston North Hospital between 1.15am 1 June to 4pm 1 June
• Ward 26, Palmerston North Hospital between 2pm 1 June and 5pm 3 June.”
The following groups of people are highly likely to be protected against measles:
• Anyone born before 1969 or
• Anyone who is up-to-date for age with their measles vaccination (given as MMR) or
• Anyone who has been diagnosed with measles (also known as English measles or Morbilli) by their doctor.
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 (but can be 7 to 18 days after contact).”
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. Measles is infectious before your symptoms start.
Dr Weir said: “For every 1000 cases of measles, approximately 100 will need hospital treatment, 100 will develop an ear infection and 50 will progress to pneumonia.
“These cases provide a reminder about how important vaccination is. Knowing that you are fully up to date for age with your MMR vaccination will avoid the need for isolation if you are in contact with a person with measles. If you are uncertain about your vaccination status I would suggest contacting your GP to investigate further. 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.”
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 611116 for more advice. It is very important you tell your GP that you think you might have measles before going in to the surgery. Making contact with your GP or Healthline is particularly important if you have been in the areas listed in Palmerston North Hospital between 31 May and 3 June.”
Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945