Information and updates about measles in the MidCentral District Health Board region.
Measles is highly contagious – and easily preventable. It can affect both children and adults.
Six people have been confirmed with measles in the MidCentral DHB area since the start of the year. The most recent person with the disease was confirmed on the 4th of October and is currently in isolation.
The local cases are linked to the ongoing national outbreak, which has seen over 1,500 people diagnosed with the disease. Most of the people diagnosed with measles have been in the greater Auckland area, particularly South Auckland.
Who is protected against measles?
- People who are over 50 years of age ( born before 1 January 1969) are considered to have been exposed to measles when they were young and will be immune to the disease.
- Anyone who has been confirmed with measles (regardless of their age) will also be protected.
- People who have had two doses MMR are considered immune, while a single dose of the vaccine typically protects 95% of those vaccinated.
Vaccine supplies are limited at present
Vaccination with the MMR vaccine is the best protection against measles. MMR vaccine is part of the national vaccine schedule and is usually given at 15 months and four years of age.
The Ministry of Health issued a national advisory on 18 September regarding use of MMR. In summary, this advisory stated for areas outside the Auckland region the priority for MMR vaccinations should be:
- ensure all children receive their vaccinations on time at 15 months and 4 years to maintain the national Childhood Immunisation Schedule
- susceptible close contacts within 72 hours of first exposure to measles when possible.
Further advice about vaccination and for those travelling to areas with serious measles outbreaks can be found at the Ministry of Health website
Further stocks of the vaccine are being sourced from overseas. Prioritisation may change once additional supplies of the vaccine have arrived in the country. stocks of the vaccine are being sourced from overseas. Prioritisation may change once additional supplies of the vaccine have arrived in the country.
What to do if you think you have measles
Anyone who thinks they may have measles (see symptoms below) should stay away from work, school or public places. If you think you might have measles 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.
Please avoid Palmerston North Hospital's Emergency Department if possible. If you have to visit ED, please ring the triage nurse first on (06) 350 8755 and inform them of your symptoms before you enter the building. Alternatively, you and your support people can put on a mask at the door and report immediately to reception.
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.
How is measles spread?
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.
Further information and updates about the measles cases confirmed in the MidCentral District Health Board region can be found from the MidCentral DHB News Site
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