Health officials in Auckland, New Zealand have confirmed a measles alert for Skycity Casino and Sugar Tree Apartments after an individual ignored medical instructions to go into quarantine.
“By ignoring our instructions this person has put the health of the public at risk. There are many people who could potentially be exposed to measles and they will need to take immediate action if they suspect they are not immune to this disease,” says Medical Officer of Health Dr Richard Hoskins.
Local media report three people have been confirmed with measles and 51 are in home quarantine as health authorities in Auckland battle to stop the outbreak spreading.
People who have visited these locations are likely exposed to the disease and if not immune could get measles:
1. Skycity Casino on 9 February 9.45pm – 12.00am: Level 2 or level 3 and public areas
2. Sugar Tree Apartments 9 – 13 February: Lifts and common areas.
If people are infected, they will likely experience symptoms from 17 February onwards. The first symptoms are a fever, and one or more of a runny nose, cough and sore red eyes. After a few days a red blotchy rash starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.
“People who are feeling unwell and have visited these locations at the times suggested should immediately telephone their doctor or Healthline on 0800-611-116 for advice. It is very important to phone in advance because measles is highly infectious and you could infect other people in the medical waiting room,” says Dr Richard Hoskins.
The illness is infectious before the rash appears and is easily transmitted. If you are not immune you can contract the disease by walking past an infected person or by standing or sitting next to them in a lift, café or waiting room.
“We had no indication this person was going to be non-compliant with our instructions. When we became aware of the situation it was too late. The risk to other peoples’ health and the cost to the public health system is significant and avoidable,” says Dr Hoskins.
People who visited Skycity Casino or Sugar Tree Apartments during the specified dates and times will need to go into quarantine from 17-27 February in these circumstances:
· If they are not immune to measles
· If they are unsure about their measles immunity and haven’t had a blood test to confirm their immune status.
Those in quarantine should remain at home and call Healthline or their doctor for further advice. They cannot visit other people and should stay away from public places, events, social activities and school/work environments.
This person contracted measles because they were seated two rows behind an infected passenger on China Southern Airlines flight CZ305 which arrived at Auckland airport on 30 January. This is the second case of measles from this flight.
Measles is a serious illness, and up to one in 10 people with measles need hospital treatment. There is a high risk of contracting the disease if you have not had the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination, or if you have received only one dose of this vaccine. Anyone born before 1969 is likely to be immune to the disease.
“My plea is that people follow medical instructions when they have been exposed to measles. For everyone else it’s a timely reminder to check their immunisations are up-to-date. Measles cannot be treated once you get it so the only way to protect yourself is to be fully vaccinated.
“Measles is rare in New Zealand thanks to immunisation. We had two big outbreaks in 2011 and 2014 from people who were infected overseas. People tend to underestimate measles – the reality is it can be a nasty disease,” says Dr Hoskins.