19 Jul 2019

Measles outbreak: Warning after baby infected in Hawke's Bay

7:53 pm on 19 July 2019

A baby has been hospitalised with measles in Hawke's Bay.

Hawke's Bay District Health Board says the infant, who is too young to have been immunised, contracted the highly contagious disease while visiting Auckland.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Nicholas Jones said public health officials were working with the family and other known close contacts to ensure those who were not immunised stay in isolation to avoid further spread of the disease.

Dr Jones said the baby also visited the Flaxmere New World supermarket on Wednesday, 10 July between 5pm and 5.30pm.

Health officials are also directly contacting people who were in the waiting room of Hawke's Bay Hospital's Emergency Department on Friday, 12 July between 8pm, and 2.30am on Saturday, 13 July, and again on Tuesday, 16 July between 4.30pm and 6.40pm.

Those who may have been exposed and are unsure if they're immune and been to those locations or who start developing symptoms are being told to call their doctor or call Healthline.

People who think they might have measles are advised not to visit their doctor but instead call their GP to avoid spreading the illness.

Measles infects about 90 percent of people who come into contact with it who are not immune. It can live in the air for hours after a person has been coughing and sneezing in the area.

One dose of the vaccine will prevent measles in 95 percent of people, while two doses will protect 99 percent of people.

Early symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and watery 'pink' eyes, and sometimes small white spots on the back inner cheek. Measles can lead to complications including pneumonia and, in rarer cases, brain swelling or death.

The disease has been on the rise across the world in recent years, with cases tripling worldwide.

More than 200 cases of measles have been confirmed in New Zealand since the start of this year, with the majority in Auckland.

Measles facts:

  • Measles is a highly infectious viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing.
  • People are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash to five days after the rash starts.
  • Infected persons should stay in isolation - staying home from school or work - during this time.
  • The best protection from measles is to have two MMR vaccinations. MMR is available from your family practice and is free to eligible persons.
  • People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.
  • Anyone believing they have been exposed to measles or exhibiting symptoms, should not go to the ED or after hours' clinic or general practitioner. Instead, call the GP first.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs