7 Jan 2020

Measles warning after infected person travels across country over holidays

7:49 pm on 7 January 2020

A person who was travelling across the country over the holidays has been confirmed to have measles in Christchurch.

A close up of the Interislander ferry that returned to Wellington port due to a security threat.

Interislander ferry. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The person was diagnosed in Christchurch and Canterbury DHB has been working to identify all close contacts and offer advice.

Anyone who was in the following locations at those times and is not immunised against measles, or are over 50 years of age, may have been exposed and at risk:

  • 28 December, 2019: Interislander Ferry Wellington to Picton, 7.45am-12.30pm
  • 30 December, 2019: Emergency Department at Dunedin Hospital between 9am and 1pm
  • 30 December, 2019 to 3 January, 2020: Whare Flat Folk Music Festival
  • 6 January, 2020: Interislander Ferry Picton to Wellington, 11.15am

People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR vaccine, have already had measles previously, or were born before 1969 - people born before this time will have been exposed to measles and most will therefore have had it.

Southern Medical Officer of Health Susan Jack said people were infectious from five days before the onset of the rash until four days after the rash appeared.

"So it is possible to transmit the infection before you feel unwell. People who have been exposed and who are not immune should remain isolated from seven days after their first exposure to 14 days after their last exposure."

Dr Jack said immunisation was the best protection against measles, especially for children who haven't yet had their MMR vaccinations scheduled at 15 months and four years.

Measles facts and what you need to know

  • 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.
  • 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.

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