Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has been notified of another four new measles cases, taking the number of confirmed cases in Auckland for this year to 21.
Medical Officer of Health Dr William Rainger says three of the cases live in West Auckland; a ten month old, an 18 year old and a 35 year old. A second 35 year old from Central Auckland has also been confirmed with measles.
“We are still contacting all those we know have been exposed to these people while infectious, and we are asking those who are not immune to watch for symptoms and stay at home.”
Measles is highly infectious and potentially life-threatening. About one in 10 people will need hospital treatment and 30 per cent of cases develop complications.
“We ask parents to vaccinate their children on time at 15 months and four years. Those under five years are most at risk of complications from measles,” Dr Rainger says.
Those over 50 are considered immune as the disease was widespread in childhood. One MMR vaccine dose protects around 95 percent of the population, with a second dose protecting close to 99 percent.
“Our advice to people continues to be to watch for the signs and symptoms of measles – fever, cough, runny nose and sore red eyes. After three to five days, a rash appears on the face before moving down the body.”
So far this year thirteen people have been hospitalised for measles in Auckland and ARPHS has contacted, or is contacting, more than 1600 people who may have been exposed to the disease.
Dr Rainger says people with measles can spread it to others even before they start feeling sick, so often don’t know that they might be exposing others.
“If you think you or your child has measles – or you’ve been in contact with someone you believe has the disease - it’s important to call your doctor or healthcare centre before turning up so you can be isolated on arrival.”
Babies and young children, non-immunised pregnant women and immune-compromised people, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, are at particular risk from measles.