The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) reported today that three cases of measles have been confirmed in the last four days in the South Island–one each in Queenstown, Wanaka and Christchurch.

Image/cmccarthy2001 via pixabay
Image/cmccarthy2001 via pixabay

At this time the common place of exposure for all three cases is Queenstown Airport, where all three are likely to have been in contact with an unknown infectious case on 21st or 22nd March. This person may have had a relatively mild illness and will now be fully recovered. Any other at-risk people exposed on 21 -22 March are now at the end of their maximum incubation period and unlikely to get sick.

None of the three known cases were immunized to measles.

Unimmunized people who have been exposed to any of the three cases are most likely to become ill between 10th and 20th April. 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.

Canterbury DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink says it’s important people with symptoms don’t visit GP rooms or after-hours clinics but phone their family doctor/general practice team first for advice, to limit further exposure to other people.

“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,” says Dr Pink.