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120116 - Measles Strike in Bay of Islands

Northland District Health Board is advising Northlanders to check that their family members are protected from Measles. This follows the notification of a 17 year old Bay of Islands woman with probable measles.

It is suspected the woman came in contact with the virus in Auckland and as at 9am on Monday, 16 January 2011, there have been 457 confirmed or probable cases of measles – 76 of those cases required hospitalisation – in the Auckland region alone.

Northland’s medical officer of health Dr Jonathan Jarman said he was notified shortly before the patient was admitted to Whangarei hospital on Sunday.

“Our immediate concern is that the virus is going to spread into the wider Northland community and the people most at risk are those who have never been vaccinated.”

Dr Jarman said that measles made people very sick and it was easy to prevent.

“One measles injection is good but two are better - two measles injections give 99% protection from measles.”

“I am urging not only caregivers to check that their children have been vaccinated against measles, but – older children, teenagers and younger adults can get measles too. Immunisation is free for adults under the age of 43.”

Common complications of measles include ear infections, diarrhoea and pneumonia and because measles is a severe illness it is important for caregivers to seek medical advice if their children become sick. One in six people need to be hospitalised because of complications.

Measles starts like a flu-like illness but it steadily gets worse with a high fever and cough. The characteristic rash appears after several days. It is extremely infectious, so please phone ahead to your doctor to ensure the safety of other patients and surgery staff.

“If your child or someday you know is sick seek advice from your doctor or practice nurse, or call Healthline on 0800 611 116”.

Symptoms of Measles:
  • High Fever
  • Hacking Cough
  • Red Eyes
  • Running Nose
  • Rash
  • Initially presents like a ‘flu-like illness’ but then gets worse
  • Rash appears 3-4 days after initial symptoms
  • Ear infections, diarrhoea, and/or pneumonia are also possible
  • Most children take one to two weeks to recover.
More information about immunisation and the National Immunisation Schedule and a measles factsheet is available at www.moh.govt.nz/immuniation.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre offers independent advice about immunisation through its toll-free line 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863) and at its website www.immune.org.nz.


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