Current Issues and Health Alerts
Public health alerts are provided by Public Health South to help communities in the Southern Region manage and monitor local public health issues.
1 March 2019
On 22 February 2019 a confirmed case of measles was notified to Public Health South in a university student living in a flat. This case appears to be linked to the measles outbreak affecting Canterbury where Community & Public Health now have 5 confirmed cases. To date, there have been no further cases of measles identified in the Southern District.
Public Health South is working to identify all close contacts, determining their immunisation status and offering vaccination. University students and the public are encouraged to ensure that they are up to date with immunisations.
The Ministry of Health would like to advise all travellers heading overseas to ensure their vaccinations are up to date as there are measles outbreaks in a number of countries – see https://www.cdc.gov/measles/travelers.html for details.
Children aged 6-15 months travelling to countries with measles outbreaks are recommended by the MOH to get an MMR vaccine.
The measles virus spreads easily via infectious droplets from person to person through the air, via breathing, coughing and sneezing. It starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. This is followed by a rash that spreads over the body from the head and neck downwards.
If you are exposed to measles and are not fully immunised with proper documentation, you’ll need to be isolated at home for at least 14 days.
The only way to avoid catching measles is to have had two measles vaccinations at least four weeks apart. Children are routinely vaccinated against measles at 15 months and four years. People aged 10 to 29 years are at greatest risk of catching measles, as they're the group least likely to have been fully immunised as children.
Currently MMR vaccination is free for anyone born after 1969, over 4 years of age, who hasn’t had two doses and this vaccine can be obtained from their general practice including Student Health. If you think you might have measles, please call your GP practice ahead so that they can isolate you so that you don’t spread the disease.
We are coming in to the ‘flu season and would like to remind health staff and others to ensure you have had the annual ‘flu vaccination.
Pregnant women are strongly advised to be immunised as pregnancy places a woman at greater risk of complications from influenza. Influenza immunisation is completely safe and free for pregnant women at any time during their pregnancy between March and the end of December each year.
Mothers who receive the influenza vaccine while pregnant can pass protection on to their baby. The vaccine offers protection to infants who would normally be too young (under 6 months) to receive immunisation individually.
Influenza – or the flu – is a virus that spreads quickly from person to person through the air or through touch. Symptoms include fever, chills, aches, runny nose, a cough and stomach upset. While you’re unwell, stay away from work or school. Look after yourself and your family – rest and fluids are especially important.
Influenza can be caused by different strains of the influenza virus. (Symptoms for different types of flu are the same.) The seasonal influenza vaccine is altered most years to cover the particular strains of the virus that are circulating each year.
Immunisation is your best defence against the flu along with following basic hygiene practices:
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds and dry them for 20 seconds – or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Don’t share drinks.
- Avoid crowded places.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze – then put the tissue in a lined bin.
The outbreak of mumps in the SDHB region appears to be diminishing with now only sporadic reports of suspected mumps. Mumps-like symptoms can also be caused by other viruses.
We continue to strongly urge parents to ensure their children’s vaccines are up to date.
Further information on Mumps can be found on the Ministry of Health’s website.
Other information on Mumps can be found HERE
Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Since November 2017, the Ministry of Health has declared a national outbreak of pertussis due to higher than normal notifications of suspected cases. The number of pertussis cases being notified in the SDHB region is now declining.
Pertussis is highly infectious and is spread by coughing and sneezing. Pertussis can affect anyone, although statistically in our region it occurs more commonly in people under the age of 19. Pertussis can be very serious for babies and children – especially those under 1 year old. For more information click HERE
We continue to strongly urge parents to ensure their children’s vaccines are up to date including the booster for pertussis at 4 and 11 years. Pregnant women are strongly urged to have a booster pertussis vaccination during every pregnancy between 28 and 38 weeks gestation which is the best way to protect their newborn from pertussis infection.
All health alerts are current and when any change in status occurs this page will be updated.