As at 11am today there are now 43 confirmed cases of measles in Northland with another 18 cases under investigation. This is up from 40 cases as advised on 11 September.
From 1 January 2019 to 13 September 2019 there have been 1238 confirmed cases of measles notified across New Zealand. 1028 of these confirmed cases are in the Auckland region.
"Given that Northland is so close to Auckland and people regularly travel there, it isn't surprising that the number of measles cases in Northland is increasing," noted Dr Brad Novak, Medical Officer of Health.
"The majority of the 43 cases in Northland have a link to Auckland, or to already known cases in our region."
In terms of where the measles cases are it is essential to realise that the measles virus is invisible and airborne. No matter where you live if you are not immunised, and you come in contact with the virus, there is a high chance that you will contract measles.
"Effectively, if you are immune against measles you do not have to worry. Our goal is to ensure that those who are eligible are immunised because this will protect our very young children and those who are unable to be vaccinated."
Measles starts a bit like the flu with fevers, cough, runny nose, and sore red eyes with a rash appearing on day 3-5.
If you think you or someone you know may have measles call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.
If you need urgent care call ahead and let the GP, ambulance, or Emergency Department know you think you might have measles.
Make an appointment with your GP for a free vaccine or children and adults up to the age of 30 years can get a free MMR vaccine at the:
Child Wellbeing Hub at 22b Commerce Street on Tuesdays and Thursdays (no appointment needed)
Kaitaia Hospital Whare – Thursday starting 19 September – 12.45pm until 4pm (until further notice).
There's one more confirmed measles case in Northland, bringing the total so far to 35.
The new patient is from Kaipara and contracted the disease from another person.
Northland District Health Board has put out a warning for those planning to travel to Auckland, where there's a measles outbreak, to be vaccinated against the disease at least two weeks before their trip.
Around one in 10 Northland children and one in four teenagers haven't had a MMR vaccine.
Northland DHB has an outreach service that vaccinates children in homes and those that may not be able to access other services for a number of reasons.
Public health nurses are providing vaccinations in schools and home settings and MMR is being offered alongside the school programmes.
"Northland immunisation service focus is ensuring equity. Outreach service is focused on supporting families and whānau that have difficulty accessing healthcare to access vaccinations," Northland DHB service manager school based and community clinical services, Kathryn Bowmar said.
Northland DHB is running a free drop-in clinic on Commerce St between 8.30am to 4pm on Tuesday and Thursday. No appointment is needed.
Northland DHB urges parents to ensure their entire whānau are up to date with their Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccinations, with 34 cases of measles now confirmed in the region.
Health providers throughout the country are working hard to curb the outbreak of measles nationwide, with over 800 cases confirmed in Auckland alone.
“All of the recently confirmed cases in Northland are as a result of someone catching measles either during a visit to Auckland from a visitor from Auckland and then passing this on to others. Many people living in Northland travel regularly to Auckland this means their chances of being exposed are high, and vaccination is our best protection”, warned Medical Officer of Health Dr Catherine Jackson.
It has been estimated to prevent recurrent outbreaks of measles, 90 percent of the population must be immune. To reach this level of herd immunity, 95 percent of people must have had at least one MMR vaccination.
Be Watchful for Signs and Symptoms of Measles
People coming to this event are being asked to be especially watchful for the signs and symptoms of measles. If you are unwell with a fever, cough, runny nose, sore red eyes or other flu like symptoms you should not attend as measles cannot be excluded.
Most people don’t realise they have measles until they develop the measles rash 3-5 days after they began to feel unwell. The rash typically starts on the head and face and then spreads to the rest of the body. Rash is a late sign of measles and people with measles are infectious from 5 days before the onset of the measles rash until five days after the rash started. You can spread measles before you know that this is what is making you sick.
Protect Yourself - Be Immunised with MMR
Immunisation with MMR vaccine is safe and highly effective. One immunisation with MMR protects 95% of people. Measles is the most infectious illness there is and spreads very easily from person to person. Northland District Health Board is advising MMR immunisation for those aged 1-49 year who have no records of having at least one MMR vaccine.
What is Measles?
Measles is a viral illness for which there is no treatment. Complications of measles are common and so far this year 4 out of every 10 people with measles have been admitted to hospital.
For more information see https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/measles, call Healthline on 0800 611 116, or speak with your family doctor.
Prevention through MMR immunisation is best as there is no cure for measles.
Protect yourself and those around you by being immunised and checking your children are immunised against measles.
If you have been exposed to measles, getting immunised within 72 hours reduces the risk that you will get measles yourself.
Some people can’t be immunised against measles including very young children, pregnant women, and people with immune suppressing illnesses or on with immune suppressing medicines, for example, people on cancer treatment.
Getting measles during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, preterm delivery, and stillbirth.
Very young children and immune compromised people are at much higher risk of measles complications and of being hospitalised.
If you are unable to be immunised – ask those people you spend the most time with to be immunised and avoid travel to places with outbreaks are occurring – including Auckland.
If you think you or your child might have measles, see a GP or other doctor and be tested – call ahead so they can prepare to see you.
If you are diagnosed with measles
Measles is a viral illness for which there is no treatment.
Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to help reduce fevers, drink plenty of fluids, and rest.
Complications of measles are common so seek medical attention if you feel very unwell.
Stay at home in isolation until you are no longer infectious to stop the spread to others in your community – this means staying at home for 5 days after the measles rash appears.
Vitamin A supplementation is not a treatment for measles and has not been shown to have any effect in children over 2 years and adults.
There is limited evidence that it reduces deaths and complications in children aged <2 years old living in developing countries where vitamin A deficiency is common.
In New Zealand vitamin A deficiency is very rare, and vitamin A is only advised for children under 2 years of age with severe complications of measles as it may confer a small benefit and there is no evidence it does harm.
National Health Advisory Updated Advice for Measles Vaccination
Since June 2019 Auckland has been experiencing an outbreak of measles. There have been over 600 cases to date. Measles is highly infectious and can be life-threatening, but immunisation protects yourself, your family and also helps protect the community.
The Ministry is monitoring the Auckland outbreak closely. People travelling to Auckland, particularly South Auckland, should be immunised against measles before they travel.
Normally, the first measles vaccination occurs at 15 months of age. However, babies who are travelling to Auckland or living in Auckland should have their first measles vaccine earlier at 12 months of age. Vaccination should be done at least two weeks before travelling to allow their immunity to develop.
Anyone who may have been in contact with someone with measles should check their vaccination status before they travel. People who have early symptoms of measles (fever, cough, runny nose, sore eyes) should not travel.
After one dose of the MMR vaccine, about 95% of people are protected. Immunisation is the best protection against measles, and it's free. If you are aged under 50 years and have never had at least one dose of a measles vaccine get vaccinated now.
The MMR vaccine can be given to children as young as 6 months old after consultation with your family doctor but the child will still need two more MMR vaccinations when they are older than one year. If you are travelling overseas with your baby to areas with uncontrolled measles outbreaks, or have concerns about their potential exposure to measles you should discuss this with your family doctor.
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness, that can be very serious. It is prevented by the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination.
Measles is caused by a virus and is easily spread from person to person. Both children and adults can get measles, and it can be very serious. A third of people with measles get ear infections, pneumonia (an infection in the lungs), or diarrhoea (loose, watery poo). Very bad cases of measles need treatment in hospital and some people can die from measles.
Your family/whānau’s best protection against measles is to be immunised against it. Protection from measles is part of the free MMR vaccinations given to children at 15 months and four years of age. If you think you or your child may not have had these vaccinations, see your doctor.
If you are concerned about measles call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see your doctor or practice nurse.
Page information source: Auckland Regional Public Health Service