4 Sep 2019

Confirmed measles cases in Auckland increase

10:30 pm on 4 September 2019

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service says the number of measles cases in the city has gone up to 821 today - from 812 cases yesterday.

No caption

Photo: 123rf.com

Of those, 567 cases are in Counties Manukau District Health Board, with 991 cases nationally.

Public health officials have also been talking to secondary schools after a student suspected to have measles attended the St Peter's College school ball on Saturday.

Medical officer of health Dr William Rainger said a student who was at the ball had now been confirmed with measles.

He said letters had been sent out to schools and anyone who was at the ball stays home from this Saturday, 7 September for one week to 14 September if they're unvaccinated or unsure.

Dr Rainger said the health service had been working with St Peter's College and the infected student's school.

He said seven children and eight adults across the region were now in hospital, including one adult and one child in intensive care.

"The majority of cases are still in children under the age of five years, followed by young people aged between about 13 and 29 years, and we've had no deaths as yet," he said.

Some analysts have suggested the epidemic will peak next week, but Dr Rainger said it was not yet possible to make that prediction.

"In order to create an accurate model you have to plug in pieces of information as assumptions, and if you don't have certainty about vaccination coverage then the variability of the answer that comes out of the model is great."

Meanwhile vaccinations have been increasing dramatically, with some clinics running short of the vaccine because of logistical difficulties. This time last year there were 12,000 doses of MMR distributed nationally over a month. There were 9000 distributed yesterday alone.

Counties Manukau District Health Board's child, youth and maternity manager Carmel Ellis said 1044 people had so far received MMR vaccines at drop-in clinics in the region.

At Manurewa High School, which has been badly affected by the outbreak, 91 students and staff were also immunised yesterday.

Meanwhile, there have been 11 confirmed cases at the University of Auckland. Students who share classes with those infected had been advised, a university spokesperson said.


In the Waikato, seven cases of measles had now been notified in the last two weeks.

The figure has risen from three on Friday.

All cases are in the Hamilton area.

Medical Officer of Health Richard Hoskins said the cases had come either from people getting exposed to measles out of the region or from exposure to local measles cases before they were diagnosed and isolated.

He said some of the cases are linked to those in South Auckland.

Top doctors in Waikato and Northland are calling for a national immunisation programme against measles urgently.

Fears of a death

No one has died yet, but at Auckland's Starship children's hospital clinical director Michael Shepherd said that could change.

"I think if we continue to see an outbreak of measles then we're going to see a fatality or fatalities," he said.

"It's clear that some of the cases we've already had through our intensive care units would have died 20 or 30 years ago without the intensive treatment that we've been able to provide."

Measles has also been confirmed in one of the two people who visited Gisborne last Monday and Tuesday.

The local district health board, Hauora Tairāwhiti, said the two young adults were both showing signs of the disease.

The pair spent time in the Gisborne City centre between 11am and 3pm last Monday, and were briefly in Matawai on Tuesday before leaving the district on Wednesday.

One person, who has been in close contact with the pair, is now in quarantine until next week.

Measles information:

  • If you are showing symptoms, call a doctor but stay at home - do not visit the GP as you could spread the disease at the waiting room
  • Measles symptoms include a fever, runny nose, sore red eyes and cough, followed a few days later by a rash usually starting on the face before moving down the body
  • You can have measles and spread it to other people before you start to show any symptoms or feel sick
  • It can take about two weeks to be fully immune after being vaccinated
  • Healthline offers free advice and has a translator service 0800 611 116
  • Measles has a 90 percent infection rate, meaning nine out of 10 non-immue people who come into contact with an infectious person contract the disease
  • Measles is a serious disease, and can lead to complications including pneumonia and in rarer cases brain damage or even death
  • Read this explainer from March for more information