In a follow-up to a report last week concerning measles on Horowhenua, a district on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, MidCentral Public Health Service reports an additional six confirmed measles cases this week, bringing the total cases to nine in the district.
Schools that have been affected by the current measles outbreak re-opened on Monday and staff and students who have provided evidence of immunity against measles have resumed their normal activities.
Dr Rob Weir, Medical Officer of Health, said: “Those people who have not been able to provide evidence of immunity to date have been asked to stay in isolation while there is still a risk of the infection spreading. Isolation means staying at home during this time period and not having physical contact with anyone other than those living in your home or your health professional. People who are currently in isolation can be released 14 days after their last contact with an infectious case.”
Dr Weir said while the measles outbreak is a concern to the school population and the families affected, at this point it is not a concern for the wider community, however we are continuing to monitor the community closely.
“This is a community issue, and if people don’t act responsibly we will see the number of cases increase exponentially. If you know of people in isolation, please support them, but do not come in close proximity to them. If you are getting them groceries, please leave these outside the front door for them to collect once you have left. For emotional support, text, call, message them and stay in touch remotely.
“We appreciate the cooperation we have received from the community on this matter. Approximately 10% of people with measles are admitted to hospital, so we all need to take care. Being fully up to date with the MMR vaccine is the best method of prevention. The vaccine is free to those who need it and available from your general practitioner.”
Dr Weir reminded people that measles spreads from person to person through the air from breathing, coughing and sneezing, and contact with those secretions.
“The disease is contagious from just before symptoms begin until about five days after onset of the rash. The illness usually starts between 10 and 14 days after contact with the measles virus (but can occur from 7 days after contact with the virus).”
Measles is extremely infectious and remains in the air for up to two hours after a contagious person has been in the room. Symptoms include: fever, runny nose, cough, and sore red eyes. After 3-5 days a rash appears on the head and spreads down the body.
Dr Weir said: “Anyone who thinks they may have measles should stay away from work, school or public places.”