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Second wave of measles hits Waikato

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Second wave of measles hits Waikato

Waikato is experiencing a second wave of measles cases all involving unvaccinated contacts of those originally diagnosed.

There are now 17 confirmed cases of measles - one requiring hospitalisation and all in teenagers - notified to Waikato District Health Board's Population Health.

All are confined to the Te Awamutu area and six were secondary cases in unimmunised family members.

Medical officer of health Dr Anita Bell said the secondary cases were isolated for their infectious period so should not have spread the disease any further.

"Measles is a serious and highly infectious disease that makes people very ill for about 10 days. All cases were unimmunised apart from one of the cases who had received only one of the two recommended doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) vaccine.

"This is a testament to the effectiveness of the MMR vaccine in protecting people who are fully immunised.

"Immunisation is the only protection from this potentially serious disease. Immunisation protects not only the individual but also blocks the spread of this disease in our communities," said Dr Bell.

Unimmunised people who have contact with a person with measles, will normally get told to stay at home and away from all public places, school or work for 14 days after their contact.

"Anyone born before 1969 can reasonably assume they are already immune, because catching measles was almost inevitable before vaccine became available. Many children were harmed in the process.

"If families suspect a member has measles they should call their doctor before visiting to avoid spreading the disease while waiting," said Dr Bell.

Measles is spread by tiny droplets in the air and is one of the few diseases that can spread so easily to those nearby.

Anyone displaying symptoms of measles, which include fever, cough, blocked nose, sore red eyes, should immediately telephone their doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116, for advice.

Additional Information www.waikatodhb.health.nz/measles

Measles Fact Sheets http://www.waikatodhb.govt.nz/file/fileid/38272

Call Healthline for free health advice

Healthline (0800 611 116) is a free 24-hour telephone health information service for all families. Registered nurses will assess your health needs, and give information and advice to help you decide on the best level of care.

If you think you or someone in your care has measles

Prompt identification can help limit the spread of measles to others. If you or anyone in your care displays common symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, sore eyes and fever, followed by a raised red rash that starts on the face and moves to cover the rest of the body, seek immediate medical help - contact Healthline on 0800 611 116 or your local doctor. Phone ahead before visiting a doctor to minimise the spread of infection to others in the waiting room. It is also important that if you suspect you may have measles, or you have had contact with someone suspected to have measles and you are not immune, that you remain in isolation to limit the spread of the disease.

How do I know if I'm immune?

People born before 1969 or who have received two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) or who have had doctor diagnosed measles in the past are considered to be immune.

Get immunised

Immunisation is the only effective way to protect against the disease. If you or any children in your care are not up to date with immunisations, then contact your GP or practice nurse and arrange to catch up as soon as possible. MMR is given in two doses, normally at 15 months and four years of age giving over 95 per cent protection. However, it's never too late to get immunised.

More information on immunisation

For information on immunisation, please phone the Immunisation Advisory Centre free on 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863) or visit them at <a href="http://www.immune.org.nz">www.immune.org.nz</a>

Interpreters

Healthline's Language Line operates Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. When you call Healthline during these hours, the nurse or call handler can usually arrange for an interpreter. Outside these hours, Healthline uses other interpreter services as far as possible. It is not always possible to locate an interpreter in a particular language at short notice.

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