Further cases of measles confirmed in Bay of Plenty

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Measles is still on the rise in the Bay of Plenty.

Up until this week ten cases had been confirmed in the region, and all within the Western Bay of Plenty.

Bay of Plenty Medical Officer of Health Dr Phil Shoemack says fresh cases have now been detected.

“Unfortunately we got another four cases in the past week, however they are connected to the previous cases of measles confirmed in young adults in the Mount Maunganui area. The new incidents are close contacts.

“We’re pretty confident we don’t yet have widespread infection through the community, it’s pretty tightly controlled at this stage and we’re hoping we won’t have any more cases.”

Dr Shoemack says it’s important now to check all vaccinations are up to date.

Measles is an infectious viral illness that spreads easily from person to person. It can be serious with about one in ten people with measles needing hospital treatment.

Immunisation is very effective in preventing measles. The vaccine that protects against measles is the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.  

“It’s important that parents ensure that their children receive their free routine MMR immunisations on time at 15 months and 4 years of age,” says Dr Shoemack.

“If for any reason you have never had a dose of MMR vaccine now is the time to get one,” says Dr Shoemack. “After just one dose of MMR vaccine about 95 per cent of people will be protected from measles, and 99 per cent of people who have had both MMR doses will be protected from measles.”

People born before 1 January 1969 are considered to be immune because measles used to be very common, and so this older age group does not need the measles immunisations.

It is particularly important to check your immunity if you are planning an overseas trip. The Ministry of Health recently highlighted that since 2012, all cases of measles in New Zealand came from travellers bringing the disease from overseas and that there are currently significant measles outbreaks in many countries.

Dr Shoemack says if you are concerned you or someone you know might have measles, seek medical care.

“If you think you or someone in your family may have measles, stay at home and phone your doctor to alert them of your symptoms and allow them to make arrangements to assess you safely and without infecting other people, or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice,” says Dr Shoemack.

Sam Gardner