In a follow-up to a report last week, Waikato health officials updated their measles alert Tuesday noting that the current situation is as follows: Notification of 18 possible cases and eight confirmed,  three are under investigation and seven have been determined not to be measles.

Image/Jim Goodson, M.P.H.
Image/Jim Goodson, M.P.H.

All eight cases have been in the Waikato Hospital Emergency Department. Three required hospitalization and have been since discharged. One case has attended Nga Taiatea Wharekura School while infectious prior to the school holidays.

In addition, one measles case attended a regional Tainui Waka Kapa Haka festival held Saturday 16 April at the Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton while infectious. Around 5,000 attended the national event with attendees from throughout the North Island. Any secondary cases from the Kapa Haka event would be expected to be developing symptoms this week. There have been no confirmed cases resulting from attendance at the event to date.

If you or your child attended this Kapa Haka event you may have been exposed to the measles virus. You should look out for the symptoms of measles for 14 days after the event (until the 30 April 2016).  The first symptoms of measles are fever, runny nose, sore runny eyes and cough. The rash starts later.

We advise everyone to check your immune status for measles. If you do not have immunity get vaccinated as soon as possible with the MMR vaccine.

If you or your family do have the above symptoms phone your GP for advice.

These cases demonstrate how highly infectious measles can be, (including before symptoms develop) and how seriously ill those infected can become.

People who shared the same air as someone while they were infectious with measles (e.g. being in the same room) may be at risk of developing the disease if they are not already immune.

Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease and anyone who has had at least two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination is considered immune.  People most at risk of contracting the disease are those who have either not had the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine, or who have just had one dose of the vaccine.

If you were exposed, there are a number of measles symptoms to look out for. The incubation period for measles is approximately two weeks, meaning it can take up to two weeks from exposure to show symptoms.

The first symptoms of measles are a fever, and one or more of a runny nose, cough and sore red eyes. After a few days a red blotchy rash comes on, usually starting on the face before spreading to the body and lasts up to one week.

Measles can be very serious. If you or your child becomes unwell please phone your GP or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice or seek medical attention depending on severity of illness. It is important to call first because measles is highly infectious, and people with measles can infect others around them for example in waiting rooms of GP surgeries or ED. Measles is spread by tiny droplets in the air and is one of the few diseases that can spread so easily to those nearby.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Felicity Dumble says this is a timely reminder to everyone to check that they and their children are fully immunised against measles. Vaccination affords full immunity in the vast majority of cases.

If you/your child are not immune, as a precaution, stay in home for 14 days after the event in isolation/quarantine – until the 30 April 2016.  If you are unsure if you are immune or not, please call your GP to check your/your child’s records.