Three cases of measles confirmed on South Island

Three cases of measles have been confirmed in the last four days in the South Island. This is a notifiable disease and the cases have been reported in Queenstown, Wanaka and Christchurch.

At this time the common place of exposure for all three cases is Queenstown Airport, where all three are likely to have been in contact with an unknown infectious case on 21 or 22 March. This person may have had a relatively mild illness and will now be fully recovered. Any other at-risk people exposed on 21 -22 March are now at the end of their maximum incubation period and unlikely to get sick.

None of the three known cases were immunised to measles.

Southern and Canterbury DHBs are working together on this investigation and close contacts of all three cases have been identified and are being followed up.

Unimmunised people who have been exposed to any of the three cases are most likely to become ill between 10 - 20 April.

People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.

Southern DHB Public Health Service is working closely with Queenstown Airport to provide advice to staff who work there.

Queenstown Airport manager communications and community Jen Andrews says that the medical advice has been shared with its airport community and the airport is now working with the public health service to determine the next steps: “We are monitoring the situation and will take public health service advice on any measures which may need to be put in place to address concerns.”

Dr Marion Poore, Southern DHB Medical Officer of Health says: "People are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash to five days after the rash starts and should stay in isolation during this time. This means staying home from school or work and having no contact with unimmunised people. If your vaccinations are up-to-date, you will be protected. If you are unsure, you can check your vaccination status with your family doctor or general practice, although there is no harm in getting an additional dose.

“It's important that people with symptoms don't visit GP rooms or after-hours clinics but phone their family doctor/general practice team first for advice, to limit further exposure to other people.”

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing. Unimmunised people exposed to measles first develop a respiratory type of illness with dry cough, runny nose, temperature over 38.5 C and feel very unwell. The rash starts on day 4 - 5 of the illness usually on the face and moving down to the chest and arms.

The best way to protect yourself from measles is to have two MMR vaccinations. MMR is available from your family practice and is free to eligible persons.

More information about measles is available at https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/measles

Anyone with these symptoms or who believes they may have been exposed, can contact Healthline 0800 611 116 (free and 24 hours) for additional advice.

 

Measles Fact Sheet

  • Measles is a highly infectious viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing
  • Symptoms of measles include: 
    • a respiratory type of illness with dry cough, runny nose, headache
    • Temperature over 38.5 C and feeling very unwell
    • A red blotchy rash starts on day 4 - 5 of the illness usually on the face and moves to the chest and arms.
  • People are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash to five days after the rash starts.
  • Infected persons should stay in isolation – staying home from school or work - during this time.
  • The best protection from measles is to have two MMR vaccinations. MMR is available from your family practice and is free to eligible persons.
  • People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.
  • Anyone believing they have been exposed to measles or exhibiting symptoms, should not go to the ED or after hours’ clinic or general practitioner. Instead call your GP or contact Healthline 0800 611 116 (free and 24 hours) for additional advice.