Seven measles cases now confirmed

by Mike Isle

Two further cases of measles have been identified in Canterbury bringing the total of confirmed cases to seven. The two new cases are a preschool-age child and a woman in her 40s. Although all reported cases are from Christchurch, measles is a highly infectious, potentially life-threatening disease and Canterbury District Health Board is warning cases could occur anywhere.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Pink advises that people are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash until five days after the rash appears.

“People should stay in isolation from the time they may have become infected until five days after the rash first appears.

“It means staying home from school or work and having no contact with unimmunised people. If others in your household are unimmunised, they need to stay in isolation too for fourteen days from their likely first exposure,” he said.

“Because measles is so infectious, it’s important people with symptoms don’t visit their GP or after-hours clinics but instead phone their family doctor/general practice team for advice to avoid infecting other people. People should only go to the hospital if it’s an emergency and should inform staff immediately if they think they have measles.

“If you have had two MMR vaccinations or were born before 1969, you are considered immune to measles. Everyone else may be vulnerable to infection,” Dr Pink said.

Those born overseas or who are unsure which vaccinations they might have had should contact their general practice team for advice. The measles vaccine and the appointment to have it is free to all those who are eligible for funded healthcare in New Zealand.

“As the number of confirmed cases climbs, the risk of getting measles increases for those not immunised,” Dr Pink said.