1 Oct 2019

Two unborn babies die after mothers catch measles

6:19 pm on 1 October 2019

Two pregnant women with measles have lost their babies in the latest Auckland outbreak.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Auckland health officials have been giving details of some of the complications suffered by measles patients in the outbreak, the worst in 20 years.

They said that included two foetal deaths.

The Auckland Regional Public Health service said there had been three cases of the serious brain disease encephalitis and a much higher rate of hospitalisation than other outbreaks.

The service said pregnant women were at no greater risk than the rest of the population when it came to catching measles, but if they were worried they should talk to their midwives or doctor to check whether they were immune.

Karen Bartholomew - the director of health outcomes for both the Auckland and Waitemata DHBs - said five pregnant women had been hospitalised.

Measles can cause early labour, miscarriage and low birthweight.

Most pregnant women were tested for rubella antibodies by their doctor or midwife, and most who were immune to rubella would also have immunity to measles, Dr Bartholomew said.

However any women who were worried should talk to their lead maternity carer about getting a further test, she said.

The latest outbreak had a higher rate of complications and hospitalisation than the last one in the 1990s, she said

About half of those hospitalised were under five.

Three people had been admitted to hospital for the serious condition encephalitis and 65 for pnemonia.

Health officials said they were hopeful the outbreak was peaking, with the total number of cases this year numbering 1307.

But they could not say for sure until more time had passed and there was possibility there could be flare-ups as people moved around during the school holidays.

Health authorities said the proportion of people hospitalised in the outbreak is 36 percent across the Auckland DHBs, which is higher than anticipated.

An interim report on measles hospitalisations and complications in Auckland said that usually about 10 percent of measles cases are hospitalised.

Across the region's three DHBs, the number of hospitalisations is highest for babies and children up to the age of 4, followed by 15-to-29-year-olds.

Nearly half of the hospitalisations have been Pacific people and just over 40 percent are Maori.

However, Counties Manukau DHB had the highest hospitalisation rate at 50 percent, followed by Waitemata DHB at 47 percent and Auckland DHB at 35 percent.

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