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Imported measles case confirmed in New Zealand

Wednesday, February 15, 2023   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: prevention, disease, advice

Te Whatu Ora media release: 13th February 2023

A measles case has been confirmed in New Zealand for the first time since the 2019 outbreak.

The person is an adult living in Auckland. They were infected overseas, however did not become infectious until after their arrival in New Zealand. The confirmed case is now isolating at home and contact tracing is underway.

There are several public exposure events between Sunday 5th February and Saturday 11th February 2023 where measles could have been passed on to others. These include a festival in the Waikato; chartered bus transport, meals and a hotel in Tauranga; a pharmacy and supermarket in Auckland’s CBD.

Find out more about the exposure events for this case in Auckland, the Waikato and Tauranga (Ministry of Health).

“Measles is a very serious illness that spreads very quickly. It is much more contagious than COVID-19 - particularly amongst people who aren’t immune,” says Te Whatu Ora spokesperson Dr Nick Chamberlain - Director of the National Public Health Service.

“We ask anyone present at these exposure events to stay alert to symptoms of measles and check if they are immune. You should ring Healthline on 0800 611 116 if you aren’t immune and may have been exposed.

“It was inevitable that we would have further cases of measles in New Zealand and have been preparing for this for some time,” says Dr Chamberlain.

Signs and symptoms of measles

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing. Initial symptoms of measles include:

  • fever;
  • cough;
  • runny nose; and
  • sore and watery ‘pink’ eyes.

A red blotchy rash starts on day 4 or 5 of the illness usually on the face and moves to the chest and arms.

You are infectious from four days before the onset of the rash until four days after the rash appears, so it is possible to transmit the measles infection before you feel unwell.

Symptoms normally take 7 to 14 days to develop after being exposed to someone with measles.

Get more information on measles on the Ministry of Health website.​​​

Anyone believing they have been exposed to measles or exhibiting symptoms should not go to the Emergency Department, after hours’ clinic or general practitioner. Instead call Healthline (0800 611 116) or your GP any time 24/7 for free health advice about what to do and where to go if you need to be seen urgently.

People who have been infected should remain isolated - staying home from school or work and having no contact with unimmunised people - until four days after the rash first appears.

Protect yourself by getting vaccinated

The best protection from measles is to have two measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccinations. The MMR vaccine is available from your family practice and is free to eligible persons. This is especially important for children who haven’t yet had their MMR vaccinations scheduled at 15 months and 4 years. Children and people who have never been immunised are the priorities for the vaccine.

People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.  Phone your General Practice team if you are not sure whether you are immune.

It is safe to have an extra MMR vaccination if you can’t prove you have had two doses.