Secondary measles cases expected

Media release

05 June 2015

The Ministry of Health is encouraging people who may have been exposed to a recent case of the measles to remain alert for symptoms.

A person who took part in a charity firefighter tower climb at Auckland’s Sky City developed measles symptoms after returning to Palmerston North. The event was attended by firefighters from around New Zealand and around the globe.

People who participated in the charity event, or who stayed at that hotel during the weekend of May 22 to 24, should be aware that they may have been exposed to the measles virus.

The Acting Director of Public Health, Dr Stewart Jessamine, says there were a number of people from many parts of the country who were potentially exposed to this highly contagious virus.

‘‘It usually takes 10–14 days for someone who has caught measles to start showing any symptoms, so we expect that any secondary cases may start to appear this weekend.

‘The early symptoms of measles are a fever, a cough, a runny nose, sore and watery pink eyes, and sometimes small white spots inside the mouth on the back inner cheek.’

If a person suspects they have measles, they should call their family doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116, for advice.
It’s important to phone ahead before visiting a doctor, because measles is highly infectious and can easily be passed on to others in the waiting room.

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

Dr Jessamine says cases like these show how important it is for people to get immunised against measles, or to check their immunisation status if they are unsure.

More information about measles

Measles is highly contagious – the virus from an infected person can stay in the air for up to an hour and infect people, therefore you can get infected without having been in direct contact with the case. It affects both children and adults.

However it is easily preventable through immunisation. 2 doses of the measles vaccine is all you need to protect yourself, your family and your community.

Vaccination is particularly important if you are planning to travel anywhere overseas – to protect yourself and to help prevent outbreaks in New Zealand.

More information on measles is available on the Ministry of Health website.

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