24 Oct 2019

Measles spreads to Tonga from New Zealand

9:10 am on 24 October 2019

Tonga's government has declared a measles outbreak that is linked to the New Zealand epidemic.

A child with measles

A child with measles Photo: Supplied/ DermNet NZ

Tonga's chief medical officer of Public Health said Wednesday's declaration was made after laboratory tests found 68 measles cases in Tonga.

Dr Reynold Ofanoa said contact tracing and history taking from measles patients revealed the virus was spread from New Zealand.

"Majority of the cases that we had initially were members of a national rugby team," Dr Ofanoa said.

"Players visited New Zealand from our schools to play some games during the month of September, and then the first case contracted the disease while in New Zealand."

Of the 68 cases, there had been two brief hospital admissions, with many of those infected being teenage boys, Dr Ofanoa said.

Travel and immunisation advice is now being shared in Tonga in response to the outbreak, he said.

Tonga is fortunate to have previously achieved herd immunity to measles with over 95 percent vaccination rates, which Dr Ofanoa said gave him confidence that the severity of the outbreak would be lessened.

However, the Public Health official said he would welcome support to help Tonga control its measles outbreak.

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