13 Feb 2023

First measles case in Aotearoa since 2019 outbreak isolating at home

9:03 pm on 13 February 2023
The MMR vaccine, which is used to immunise children against measles, mumps and rubella.

Vaccination to prevent measles is safe and effective, the Ministry of Health says. Photo: Tom Lee / Stuff

The country has its first measles case since the 2019 outbreak, the Ministry of Health says.

The person is an adult living in Auckland. They were infected overseas, however, did not become infectious until after their arrival in New Zealand. The confirmed case is now isolating at home and contact tracing is underway.

There have been several public exposure events between Sunday 5 February and Saturday 11 February where measles could have been passed on to others.

These include a festival in Waikato; chartered bus transport, meals and a hotel in Tauranga; a pharmacy and supermarket in Auckland's CBD.

"Measles is a very serious illness that spreads very quickly. It is much more contagious than Covid-19, particularly amongst people who aren't immune,' Te Whatu Ora spokesperson Dr Nick Chamberlain said.

Dr Chamberlain who is also director of the National Public Health Service, said anyone who was present at the exposure events needed to stay alert to symptoms of measles and check if they were immune.

They should ring Healthline on 0800 611 116 if they were not immune and may have been exposed.

"Symptoms can include a fever, cough, runny nose and sore and watery 'pink' eyes. These are followed by a blotchy rash. If you catch measles you're infectious four days before and until four days after the rash appears.

"If you have symptoms and need to visit your GP or an after-hours clinic phone ahead first to limit the risk of the virus being spread to other people."

Dr Chamberlain said children and babies should receive their normal vaccinations to protect them from measles.

"It was inevitable that we would have further cases of measles in New Zealand and have been preparing for this for some time.

"We are all aware of how infectious measles is from the last outbreak in Auckland and Northland. The most important thing that people can do to protect themselves is to ensure they and their tamariki are immunised. Vaccination is safe and effective."

Te Whatu Ora was tracing all contacts of the case to check immunity and offer vaccination where appropriate.

People are considered immune if they have received two doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.

Symptoms normally take seven to 14 days to develop after being exposed to someone with measles. Anyone who is immunocompromised and has concerns they might be a contact or were at any of the exposure events, should contact Healthline or their GP.

Exposure events where members of the public were at risk of catching measles include:

  • 'That weekend' festival in Tirau on 5 February between 3.30pm and 11.30pm
  • The General Cafe, Mt Maunganui on 6 February, Waitangi Day between 11am and 12.30pm
  • Countdown, Quay Street, on 6 February between 6.30pm and 7pm
  • Pharmacy at Quay Park, 68 Beach Rd, Auckland on 9 February between 2pm and 3.30pm

For the full list see the list on the ministry's website here.

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