The Southern District Health Board in New Zealand is reporting a second confirmed case of measles in Marlborough, which is believed linked to the case reported last week in Milford Sound.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

The woman in her 20s has been in isolation in Marlborough since Tuesday 20 November and public health officials say it’s unlikely she would have infected anyone.

“The patient was in isolation during the period of infectivity and we are reasonably confident that she would not have passed the virus on to anyone else in that time,” says Dr Susan Jack, Southern DHB, Medical Officer of Health.

A 30-year-old Milford Sound resident was confirmed as having measles last week. Another close contact of the pair, a man in Te Anau is also suspected of having the illness and has also been in isolation since the initial measles case was diagnosed last Tuesday.

None of the three patients are thought to have had the measles vaccine.

Public health agencies from all the South Island DHBs are working together to manage the outbreak.

Measles is a viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing. Unimmunized people exposed to measles first develop a respiratory-type illness with a dry cough, runny nose, temperature over 38.5C and will likely feel very unwell. A rash starts on day 4 or 5 of illness usually on the face and moving down the chest and arms.

“Measles is a highly-infectious illness. If you think you have symptoms of measles, it is vital that you do not visit your GP office, emergency room or after hours clinic. Instead, please phone your GP practice or Healthline for advice,” says Dr Jack.

“People are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash to five days after the rash starts and should stay in isolation during this time. This means staying home from school or work and having no contact with unimmunized people.

“If your vaccinations are up-to-date, you will be protected. If you are unsure, you can check your vaccination status with your family doctor or GP.”

People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, have had a measles illness previously or were born before 1969. MMR is available from your family practice and is free to eligible persons, although there may be an administration fee.