14 Nov 2019

Spread of measles expected to continue over holidays

6:34 pm on 14 November 2019

The Auckland public health authority expects people to still be getting measles into the new year, as it warns people that the virus is continuing to spread.

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Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The number of new cases has fallen sharply in the last eight weeks, peaking at about 170 a week in mid-September. Last week 43 cases were confirmed, which was slightly up on the 35 confirmed new cases the week before.

Auckland Regional Public Health's Dr Maria Poynter said although the number of cases was declining, the virus was still moving into pockets of unimmunised people and being brought in from overseas.

"The outbreak will continue for some time yet. We don't expect that it will continue to fall quite so rapidly as it has done it the past few weeks, so we will have a long-ish tail, and we expect to see cases through December and into January," Dr Poynter said.

Nationwide the number of cases has now topped 2000, with 1100 of these in Counties Manukau, and most of the others from the rest of Auckland. About a third of people have been admitted to hospital as a result.

"Our key message is that measles is still persisting in the Auckland region.

"While we might have passed the peak in the number of cases each week, we are still getting cases notified each day so we're encouraging the public to make sure that they have been vaccinated," she said.

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-immune 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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