Media release from Hawke's Bay DHB
Recent confirmed measles cases in Auckland and Christchurch
serve as a timely reminder to make sure you and your children are
fully immunised against the contagious disease, Hawke's Bay
District Health Board Medical Officer of Health Dr Caroline McElnay
Between December 2013 and November 12, 2014 283 measles cases were
reported in New Zealand, with 12 of them in Hawke's Bay.
Dr McElnay says, the only way to prevent measles is to be
vaccinated with two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella
vaccine. Vaccination is usually given at 15 months of age and 4
years of age.
"The recent case in Christchurch featured a pre-schooler who had
only received one dose of the vaccine," she says. "Two doses are
needed to be certain of complete protection. I strongly urge people
to contact their family practice and arrange for vaccination to be
"Many teenagers and young adults have not had two doses of measles
vaccine and aren't therefore protected against measles. For adults
born between 1969 and 1981 it's recommended you check your
immunisation records to see if you have been immunised - if not,
see your GP. Those born before 1969 are thought to be immune to the
"To be best protected, babies, children and adults all need to be
immunised on time, every time. While that is best practice the
vaccine can be given at any age if for some reason it was missed at
15 months and four years."
Measles is a serious and highly infectious viral disease that can
make people sick, lead to hospitalisation or, in rare cases, cause
death. It is spread from person to person through the air by
sneezing or coughing.
It is so infectious, says Dr McElnay, that simply being in the
same room as someone with measles can lead to infection if you are
not immunised. Early measles symptoms include fever, cough, runny
nose, sore red eyes and white spots inside the mouth. After three
to five days, a rash appears on the head and then moves down the
body. One in three people with measles develops complications,
including ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhoea or, rarely,
inflammation of the brain.
In the event of a child or an adult having measles the public
health team will identify people that they have been in contact
"The person with the disease will not be able to go to work or
school but more than that, anyone who has had close contact with
the case, and are not immunised, will also not be allowed to go to
work, school, the kohanga or early child care centre for two
weeks," Dr McElnay says. "We take measles very seriously. It can be
a nasty disease and can spread quickly. The only way to prevent it
is to be immunised."