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Unimmunised Children Excluded From Class In Measles Outbreak

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

19 August 2009 - Parents are reminded to get their children immunised against measles, or risk having them sent home from school for two weeks if there is a measles outbreak.

Children who have no proven immunity to measles (through either immunisation or previous exposure to the disease) will be sent home from schools and early childhood centres if a child in their class gets measles.

The reminder comes amid growing concern of a potential measles epidemic.

The number of notified measles cases so far this year is already seven times the total number of cases last year. There have been more than 100 cases in Canterbury, with 11 hospitalisations. The number of cases in Auckland is growing and there are isolated cases in other regions.

Under the Health (Infectious and Notifiable Diseases) Regulations 1966 (Section 14), infected students and teachers will be excluded from school for seven days from the appearance of the rash. Children who are exposed to infected people and who are unimmunised, or have no proven immunity to measles, will be excluded from school for 14 days from their last contact. This exclusion also applies to students taking part in sporting events.

Chief Advisor, Child and Youth, Dr Pat Tuohy says, "Measles is a highly infectious notifiable disease, with serious complications including ear infections, pneumonia and encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. We are really concerned that the current low immunisation levels mean many children are vulnerable to measles and may get very sick from this disease."

Measles is extremely infectious and easily spread.

"Parents need to be aware that if their child is not immunised and comes into contact with a child infected with measles, there is more than a 90 percent chance they will catch measles," he says.

Around one in 1000 children who catch measles will die from the disease. Immunisation is free, and although not perfect, is the best way to prevent the disease. Once immunised, 90 to 95 percent of people are protected from measles.

For more information talk to your family doctor or call the Immunisation Advisory Centre on 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863). You can go to http://www.immune.org.nz or http://www.moh.govt.nz/immunisation

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