As students head into the term one school holidays, the Ministry of Health is reminding parents to be aware of the risks of measles.
Over the past week, there have been five confirmed cases of measles reported in Queenstown, Wanaka, Canterbury and Nelson-Marlborough. Health officials are now warning parents around the country to be aware of other possible cases.
“Measles is a serious and highly infectious disease, and this flurry of new cases shows just how easily it can spread,” says Dr Caroline McElnay, Director of Public Health at the Ministry.
It also shows the importance of immunisation.
People should make sure they are fully immunised against measles and be aware of measles symptoms if they (or their children) are not fully immunised.
“Immunisation is the best protection to stop you and your children getting measles. For the best protection, people need to have two MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations. The MMR is available from your family practice and is free to eligible people.”
“With the school holidays coming up (from tomorrow), parents should be mindful families and children could be exposed to measles, especially if they are travelling, attending events, holiday programmes, camps, or have friends and family travelling to visit them,” says Dr McElnay.
“Anyone who is not immunised and gets exposed to a case of measles will need to stay home for at least 14 days to ensure the virus doesn't spread.”
Anyone who suspects they may have measles should avoid contact with other people, especially those who aren’t fully immunised, and should phone their GP or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.
It is important to call first because measles is highly infectious, and people with measles can infect others in the waiting room.
Further information about measles and the eligibility for free immunisation can be found at www.health.govt.nz/measles or by calling 0800 IMMUNE.