Gisborne has a second case of measles

30 July 2014

A second case of measles in Gisborne has been confirmed, says Dr Geoff Cramp Medical Officer of Health.

“Measles is very infectious, even being in the same room as someone with measles after they have left the room can lead to infection.  The only way to help prevent measles, is to be fully immunized.  Someone is only considered immune to measles if they were born before 1969 or they have had two documented doses of MMR or they have had confirmed measles in the past.”

Dr Geoff Cramp says “if you are not immune and there is a case in the classroom or at work then you will have to stay off work or not go to school for two weeks and remain isolated away from other people in case you develop measles and then pass it on.”

“This can be a difficult time for people. So the advice at the moment would be to make sure that you are immunised – you can check with your local medical centre if you are not sure.  If there is any doubt you should get a further vaccination. The measles vaccine (MMR) is free.”

“If you think you or your child has measles then phone your medical centre and let them know first.  You can then be seen away from other patients so that it is not passed on in the waiting room.”

Public Health is investigating possible contacts of the second case.


What is measles?

Measles is sometimes known as English Measles. Measles is a serious and highly infectious viral disease that can make people very sick and can lead to hospitalisation or, in rare cases, death.

It is spread from person to person through the air by breathing, sneezing or coughing.

If you are not immunised simply being in the same room as someone with measles can lead to infection and if you are not immunised you could have measles and spread it without even knowing it.

A person may be developing measles and not be aware until they actually feel ill – symptoms usually take about 10 days to develop but it might take as long as 18 days.

The early symptoms include: Fever,  Cough,  Runny nose,  Sore red eyes, White spots inside the mouth.  After 3 to 5 days a red rash appears on the head and then moves down the body.

Up to one in 3 people with measles develops complications, including ear infections, pneumonia or diarrhoea. Acute encephalitis (brain inflammation) develops in 1 in 1000 cases, some of whom die and more than one third are left with permanent brain damage.

One in 10 cases will end up in hospital. One in 1000 people with measles may die.

Who is at risk of getting measles?

If you were born after January 1969, and haven’t had two doses of measles vaccine, or have not had measles already, you are at risk of catching the disease. 

It is not just babies – older children, teenagers and adults who are not immunised are also at risk from getting sick from measles.

Measles outbreak in New Zealand

From the end of December 2013 to 25 July 2014 there have been a total of 263 confirmed measles cases reported in New Zealand. This includes 115 confirmed cases from the Waikato, 113 from the Auckland region, 18 from Bay of Plenty/Lakes, 11 from Hawke’s Bay, four from the Wellington Region, one from Taranaki and now two from Tairawhiti. Forty cases have required hospital treatment.