Measles cases identified – updated 20 Feb

Media release

01 January 2014

Update - February 20

There have been 36 confirmed cases of measles reported since the end of December 2013.
17 of these cases are linked to the 2013 World Supremacy Battleground hip-hop dance competition in Sydney in early December 2013.

Most of the other confirmed cases are from people travelling to New Zealand from overseas, primarily the Philippines, or those who have been in contact with them.

There are currently measles outbreaks overseas, including the Philippines, Australia, Europe, the UK, Asia, India and North America. It is important that travellers make sure their routine vaccinations, including measles, are up to date before travelling overseas, so they don't bring measles back to New Zealand.

See: www.safetravel.govt.nz

Learn more about measles
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is free for New Zealand residents who need it.

More about immunisation

If a person suspects they have measles, they should call their family doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116, for advice as soon as possible. It’s important they call before visiting a doctor or emergency department, because measles is easily passed on from one person to another. Phoning ahead helps ensure steps are taken to avoid spreading measles in the waiting room.

 


Update - January 28

There have been 24 confirmed cases of measles reported since the end of December 2013.

16 of these cases are linked to the 2013 World Supremacy Battleground hip-hop dance competition in Sydney in early December 2013.

The other eight confirmed cases are from people travelling to New Zealand from overseas, primarily the Philippines, or those who have been in contact with them.

There are currently measles outbreaks overseas, including in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia. It is important that travellers make sure their routine vaccinations are up to date before travelling overseas, so they don't bring measles back to New Zealand. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is free for anyone who needs it.

If a person suspects they have measles symptoms, they should call their family doctor or call Healthline on 0800 611 116, for advice as soon as possible. It’s important  they call before visiting a doctor or emergency department, because measles is easily passed on from one person to another. Phoning ahead helps ensure steps are taken to avoid spreading measles in the waiting room.

Find out more about measles.


Update – January 22

There have been 18 confirmed cases of measles reported since the end of December 2013.

16 of these cases are linked to the 2013 World Supremacy Battleground hip-hop dance competition in Sydney in early December 2013.

Two other confirmed cases in Auckland are not linked to the dance competition. These cases are unrelated. They each recently returned from the Philippines on separate flights, and have been linked to measles cases there.

There are currently measles outbreaks overseas, including in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.  It is important that travellers make sure their routine vaccinations are up to date before travelling overseas, so they don't bring measles back to New Zealand.


Update – 13 January

Two further measles cases have been identified, taking the total to 16. The cases are In Turangi/Taupo, and are people who were already in isolation, and who had been in contact with earlier measles cases in that area.


Update – 5 January

No further probable or confirmed cases have been reported today (5 January 2014).


Update – 4 January

No further probable or confirmed cases have been reported today (4 January 2014).


Update – 3 January

No further probable or confirmed cases have been reported today (3 January 2014).


Update –  2 January                 

The case previously reported as "under investigation" has now been reclassified as confirmed. This gives a total of 11 confirmed cases (one in Auckland and ten in Turangi/Taupo)


1 January

Further New Zealand measles cases linked to a dance festival in Sydney have been reported.

There is now one confirmed case of measles in Auckland and nine confirmed cases and one case under investigation in Turangi and Taupo.

The Acting Deputy Director Public Health at the Ministry of Health, Dr Harriette Carr, says public health authorities are working to identify people who may have been in contact with those affected.

"Measles can be a serious disease and is easily spread to someone who is not immunised, or who has not been exposed to measles previously."

Dr Carr says the Auckland measles case, and 3 of the 9 confirmed cases in Turangi/Taupo had attended the 2013 World Supremacy Battleground hip-hop competition in Sydney in December.

The remaining cases were family or known to those who had been at the festival.  No-one has been hospitalised but all those currently infective are being kept isolated at home.

Festival attendees are also known to have come from Huntly and Hamilton, and local public health unit staff there are following up.

Dr Carr says public health unit staff have standard procedures in these situations which involved following up with those who had contact with the infected person, and alerting health professionals and emergency departments to especially be on watch for possible measles symptoms.

"It's very important if people have symptoms of measles that they seek medical advice. Symptoms can include fever, runny nose, and sore watery red eyes that last for several days before a red blotchy rash appears.  Because measles can be easily spread however, it's also important that people contact the Healthline 0800 number or ring their doctor first so that their symptoms can be initially assessed without risk of infecting others in a GP waiting room or hospital emergency department."

Dr Carr says the cases are a reminder that the most effective protection against measles is immunisation. A publicly-funded vaccination is available via GPs. People should also make sure their routine vaccinations are up to date before travelling overseas.

For more information, contact Kevin McCarthy, senior media advisor, Ministry of Health, 021 832 459.

Measles symptoms

The illness usually starts 10–12 days after a person has been exposed. If you have measles, you may get:

  • a fever
  • a runny nose
  • sore and watery ‘pink’ eyes
  • sometimes small white spots on the back inner cheek of your mouth.

A rash usually starts on the third-to-seventh day of the illness. This tends to start on the face, behind the ears, before moving over the head and down the body. The rash lasts for up to a week

Measles can be a serious illness, particularly in those with lower immunity. It can cause serious complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, or inflammation of the brain.

What to do if you suspect you have measles

If you have any of these symptoms, even if mild, contact your family doctor or call Healthline on 0800 611 116, for advice as soon as possible.

It’s important to call before visiting the doctor because measles is easily passed on from one person to another. Phoning ahead helps ensure steps are taken to avoid spreading measles in the waiting room.

People should also stay away from work, school or public places, to help avoid putting other people at risk. This also applies to their family members if they are not fully immunised.

You can read more about measles in Your Health, including immunisation:

Measles and frequently asked questions about measles

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