Christchurch, April 13, 2018
A woman in her 20s from Queenstown is the latest person to be confirmed as having measles and brings the total to six people in the South Island who have been infected with this viral illness.
This person travelled while infectious, and the public health unit is wanting to alert all passengers and crew on the following Air NZ flights that they have been exposed to measles.
Air NZ Flight NZ 5642 from Queenstown to Christchurch that departed at 8.20 am on Saturday, April 7, 2018.
Air NZ Flight NZ 5653 from Christchurch to Queenstown that departed at 3 pm on Monday, April 9, 2018.
Anyone who travelled on either of these flights should check their immunisation status with their General Practice team/family doctor. If not immunised against measles, they may become unwell in the next week and should phone their doctor for advice.
They should not go to their general practice or turn up at an Emergency Department if they are unwell as they will risk infecting more people. Please phone for advice.
In Canterbury you can call your own GP team after hours and be put through to a nurse who can provide advice – or people can call Healthline on 0800-611116.
Measles is highly contagious: If one person has it 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.
Measles is a notifiable disease spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing. Unimmunised people exposed to measles first develop a respiratory type illness with dry cough, runny nose, temperature over 38.5 C and feel very unwell. The rash starts on day 4-5 of the illness usually on the face, then moves down to the chest and arms.
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.
Over the past week, six cases of measles have now been confirmed in Queenstown, Wanaka, Canterbury and Nelson-Marlborough.
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 doctor/general practice team and is free to eligible people.
To date, Public Health staff have been unable to trace the source of the outbreak, this person may have had a relatively mild illness and will now be fully recovered.
Investigations are continuing and close contacts are being identified for follow up. Nelson Marlborough DHB, Southern DHB and Canterbury DHB Public Health Units are working with affected individuals and work places to provide advice to staff.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink said, “People are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash to five days after the rash starts and should stay in isolation during this time. This means staying home from school or work and having no contact with unimmunised people. If your vaccinations are up-to-date, you will have the best protection available. If you are unsure, you can check your vaccination status with your family doctor or general practice, although there is no harm in getting an additional dose.”
People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.
More information about measles is available at https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/measles. Also, Frequently Asked Questions.