Measles information for health professionals

Measles is a serious and highly contagious illness, which can affect adults as well as children.

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Prodrome, can include:

  • fever (above 38°C)
  • cough
  • coryza
  • conjunctivitis
  • koplik spots (white spots on the buccal mucosa).

Day 3 to 7 of illness

A generalised maculopapular rash, starting on the head and neck and then spreading to the rest of the body.

Notify public health immediately

Notify the Medical Officer of Health as soon as you suspect measles – do not wait for a laboratory confirmation.

Prevent transmission

Measles patients are infectious from four days before the rash appears until four days after the rash appears (counting the day of rash onset as day 0). Implement Infection Prevention and Control measures, for example:

  • identify suitable triage and isolation areas for suspect measles cases
  • allow only immune staff to have contact with the patient
  • use appropriate personal protective equipment.

Be prepared for suspected measles cases who may not have called ahead, for example, by placing signs, hand gels and surgical masks at waiting room entrances or reception desks.

Promote immunisation

Offer measles vaccinations to those who are not fully immunised. People born before 1 January 1969 are considered immune. People born after 1 January 1969 require 2 measles vaccinations to be fully immunised.

MMR vaccinations are scheduled at 12 months and 15 months.

The vaccinations are free for New Zealand residents and contacts of cases.

Vaccination is particularly important for those planning to travel overseas – to protect them and prevent outbreaks in New Zealand.

Infants 6 months and over can be given MMR early if necessary – refer to Measles – Prevention for more information.

Further advice for travellers is available on the Safe Travel website.


The Ministry has developed some printable resources for primary care, after-hours clinics and emergency departments.

Consumer information

For information for the public on measles, go to the YourHealth consumer section.

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