Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has been notified of a case of measles in a New Zealand resident returning from Samoa to Auckland. The person did not know they had measles at the time.
Auckland Regional Public Health Service Medical Officer of Health Dr Maria Poynter says people who may have been in contact with that person should be vigilant for symptoms of the highly infectious disease.
“It can take 7-14 days to start experiencing symptoms and you are most at risk if you’re not immune to measles, either because you haven’t been vaccinated or you haven’t had the disease previously,” Dr Poynter says.
Measles is an airborne disease that spreads easily through the air via coughing and sneezing.
The passenger went into isolation shortly after arriving back in New Zealand.
Anyone who was on the same flight, or in the airports’ departure or arrival areas around the same time as the case, should watch out for measles symptoms from around this Saturday, November 9.
Dr Poynter says those symptoms include a high fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes.
“A few days later a rash starts on the face and neck, then spreads to the rest of the body,” she says.
If you were on the flight and are unsure whether you’re immune to measles, talk to your doctor or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice. Passengers should talk to their doctor today or tomorrow if they have been told they have a weakened immune system, if they have a baby under 12 months who travelled with them, or if they are pregnant and know they are not immune to measles.
If you do start to develop symptoms that could be measles, also contact your doctor. Be sure to call ahead to prevent potentially infecting others in the waiting room.
Vaccination with the Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine (MMR) offers the best protection against measles. One dose will prevent measles in 95 per cent of people, while having two doses will protect 99 per cent of people who have the vaccine.
Samoa’s Ministry of Health has been informed.