Measles outbreak increases families’ fears

Starship Hospital paediatric oncologist Scott Macfarlane says the 2011 measles outbreak has had a major impact on the lives of Auckland children with cancer and their parents.

Photo of Dr Scott Macfarlane‘Anxiety levels have increased enormously and there has been a major change in the level of confidence of families and children mixing in the community,’ he says.

‘At Starship we have grave concerns about these kids as they go about their daily lives. We are always concerned that they don’t come in contact with measles as internationally deaths from the disease are common amongst them,’ he says.

Dr Macfarlane said his greatest concern was for children who had finished intensive cancer treatment, were now on maintenance therapy and were spending more time in the community. ‘Their immunity is still low and they are spending much more time out and about with friends and their families.’

The disruption caused by the measles outbreak is also significant for parents of these children, who may have just returned to work and suddenly find the children can no longer go to school. ‘It has a high impact on their lives and anxiety levels.’

This case study was originally published in Protecting Children with Cancer from Measles.

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