A measles outbreak in Hawke's Bay has health officials urging
people under the age of 45 to check their vaccination status.
"The only way to be protected against this particularly nasty
disease is to be vaccinated against it," Hawke's Bay medical
officer of health Caroline McElnay said.
The Bay has had two confirmed and five suspected cases in the
In New Zealand since December 2013 there have been 190 confirmed
cases, with one in five patients admitted to hospital.
The Ministry of Health advises the best protection is the
measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. People need two doses to
be fully immunised against the disease, which is easily spread by
tiny droplets in the air.
Waikato also has an outbreak with 83 confirmed cases, most
reported in the past two weeks.
People travelling in the school holidays, starting on Monday,
could help spread the disease "so it is important not to put
vaccination off", Dr McElnay said.
Anyone born before 1969 or who had received two vaccine doses
could reasonably assume immunity, she said.
Those born later should check their vaccination status.
"We believe young adults are particularly at risk as the uptake
of the vaccine was not as good in that age group as it is now."
People who suspected they had the disease should inform their
doctor before visiting because they could easily infect others in
the waiting room.
The vaccine is free for all New Zealanders who need it and there
is no harm in having additional doses of MMR.
Children were usually vaccinated at 15 months and then 4 years
for the second dose, but that timeframe could be changed if an
outbreak became serious.
The first symptoms include a fever, cough, runny nose, sore and
watery pink eyes and sometimes small white spots on the back inner
cheek of the mouth. After three days, a blotchy rash, usually
starting on the face, moves up over the head and down the body.
There is no direct cure and complications include pneumonia and
Medical Officer of Health Dr Lester Calder wrote to Bay schools
warning parents and caregivers how highly infectious the disease
was and urging them to check children's vaccination status.
More information at health.govt.nz/measles or by calling 0800