Imported measles case confirmed in New Zealand

A measles case has been confirmed in New Zealand for the first time since the 2019 outbreak. The person is an adult living in Auckland. They were infected overseas, however did not become infectious until after their arrival in New Zealand. The confirmed case is now isolating at home and contact tracing is underway.

There are several public exposure events between Sunday 5 February and Saturday 11 February where measles could have been passed on to others. These include a festival in the Waikato; chartered bus transport, meals and a hotel in Tauranga; a pharmacy and supermarket in Auckland’s CBD. Details and advice are available below.

‘Measles is a very serious illness that spreads very quickly. It is much more contagious than COVID-19, particularly amongst people who aren’t immune,’ says Te Whatu Ora spokesperson Dr Nick Chamberlain, Director, National Public Health Service.

‘We ask anyone present at these exposure events to stay alert to symptoms of measles and check if they are immune. You should ring Healthline on 0800 611 116 if you aren’t immune and may have been exposed.

‘Symptoms can include a fever, cough, runny nose and sore and watery ‘pink’ eyes. These are followed by a blotchy rash. If you catch measles you're infectious four days before and until four days after the rash appears.

‘If you have symptoms and need to visit your GP or an after-hours clinic phone ahead first to limit the risk of the virus being spread to other people.

Please ensure that children and babies receive their normal vaccinations to protect them from measles.

‘It was inevitable that we would have further cases of measles in New Zealand and have been preparing for this for some time,’ says Dr Chamberlain.

‘We are all aware of how infectious measles is from the last outbreak in Auckland and Northland. The most important thing that people can do to protect themselves is to ensure they and their Tamariki are immunised. Vaccination is safe and effective.’

Te Whatu Ora is currently tracing all contacts of the case to check immunity and offer vaccination where appropriate.

People are considered immune if they have received two doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.

If you are unsure if you are immune and may have been exposed, you should talk to your doctor or phone Healthline. Symptoms normally take 7 - 14 days to develop after being exposed to someone with measles. If you are immunocompromised and have concerns that you may be a contact or were at any of the below exposure events, please contact Healthline or your doctor/GP.

The individual has also been to other places, but Public Health has either been able to identify those who may be contacts and inform them directly, or the risk has been assessed as very low. These places are therefore not being publicised in the media to protect individual privacy. Additional public exposure events may still be identified and will be publicised if necessary.

Because measles is so infectious, it’s important that infected people isolate, staying at home from school or work. People who are infectious will need to isolate from the time that they may have become infected until four days after the rash first appears.

The best protection against measles is to be vaccinated with two doses of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine.  It is safe to have an extra MMR vaccination if you can’t prove you have had two doses.   

The MMR vaccine is free. If you or anyone in your whānau born after 1969 has not had an MMR vaccine, or aren't sure, ask your GP, parent or caregiver.

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