5 Sep 2019

Measles outbreak affects Tauranga sport tournament

3:57 pm on 5 September 2019

Three teams have pulled out of a school sport tournament in Tauranga this weekend because of measles.

16341754 - doctor holding syringe with vaccine into patient's shoulder on blue background

Photo: 123rf

This comes as another 56 cases have been confirmed in Auckland since yesterday, and cases nationally have topped the 1000 mark.

About 11,500 students are expected to participate in the AIMS Games that start on Sunday and run for week.

A spokesperson for the tournament said the teams were from small rural schools and were already struggling for numbers.

The withdrawal of several unvaccinated players meant they could no longer participate, they said.

"Although we've noticed a slight increase in athlete withdrawals, it certainly hasn't been dramatically so," they said.

"We had around 30 withdraw in the week before last year's tournament because of various last-minute injuries and illnesses. From our figures so far, I think the number this year is just over 50. For a tournament with 11,500 entries, it's to be expected."

The publicity the measles outbreak has received has meant schools are being proactive in getting vaccination certificates and talking through risks with parents, organisers said.

In Queenstown, the number of confirmed cases has risen to seven, including visitors to ski fields and one person who flew from Tauranga, to Auckland to Queenstown.

The Southern District Health Board confirmed three more cases in the area last night.

It said people were infectious with the disease while visiting multiple locations, including Kea Club lessons at the Remarkables ski field.

Three staff at the Remarkables skifield have been put in isolation after testing positive.

NZSki is warning schools visiting the Remarkables ski field to check the vaccination status of their students and said customers should follow health board guidelines on minimising the virus's spread.

Travel warnings

Auckland has had 877 confirmed cases since January, up from 821 yesterday.

The Ministry of Health has said anyone with early symptoms of measles, such as a fever, cough or runny nose, should not travel to Auckland.

People are being urged to be on the look out for measles after a person with the disease flew from Auckland to Melbourne last Friday.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service said the person did not know they had measles at the time.

They left Auckland at around 9.45am on Air New Zealand flight NZ123, and were later diagnosed in Australia.

People who were on the flight or in airport departure areas about the same time are being told they should watch out for symptoms of measles from tomorrow.

Furthermore, American citizens living or travelling to New Zealand have been warned about the outbreak.

The American Centre for Disease Control is recomending travelers are vaccinated before leaving the country.

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

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