A child who recently visited Hawke’s Bay, has been confirmed as having measles.

New Zealand/CIA
New Zealand/CIA

The child visited a number of public places in the Napier area including the National Aquarium on 9th June between 10am and 12 noon.

Rachel Eyre Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s Medical Officer of Health said measles is a very infectious disease, so anyone who is not immune to measles is at risk if they have come into contact with a person who has the disease.

It spreads from person-to-person in the air from breathing, coughing and sneezing, and then coming into 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.

Measles starts with: fever, runny nose, cough, and sore red eyes. After three-five days a rash appears on the head and spreads down the body.

Dr Eyre said there was an epidemic of measles in several regions of New Zealand at the moment.

“In Hawke’s Bay we have high rates of immunization coverage with the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), but we can’t be too complacent about the likelihood of measles spread in our community. Now is a good time to check your immune status,” she said.

You are immune if you have received two MMR vaccinations, were born before 1969 or if you have previously had measles.

Immunization is the best way for us all to protect ourselves against measles and is free to those who need it.  You can protect both yourself and the community by getting immunized.

Dr Eyre said anyone who thinks they might have measles should stay away from work, school or public places. If you think you might have measles you should contact your GP (by phone first) or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for more advice.