Measles - Information for the public
Measles is present in a number of countries overseas and occasionally causes outbreaks in New Zealand.
What is measles?
Who is at risk of measles infection?
What should you do?
If you develop symptoms of measles:
For further information visit Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service: www.ttophs.govt.nz/measles or call on 0800 221 555 and ask to speak to the on call Health Protection Officer.
Information for contacts of measles cases
If you have been told by a doctor, nurse or public health worker that you are a contact of a case of measles, this information is for you -
Measles is among the most dangerous of the vaccine preventable diseases, and remains a leading cause of childhood mortality worldwide. It is highly infectious from the onset of early symptoms (such as fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes) until four days after the measles rash appears.
Thirty percent of reported cases of measles experience one or more complications. These include diarrhoea (6%), ear infections (7%), and pneumonia (6%). One in 1000 cases develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), 15% of these cases die and approximately one third are left with permanent brain damage. One in 100,000 cases will, years later, develop subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a serious brain inflammation. This serious complication is always fatal. Death occurs in approximately 1-2 per 1,000 reported cases of measles overall in western countries.
Immunisation given on time is the best way to prevent measles. Two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is 99% effective in preventing measles. The first dose of MMR vaccine is usually given at 15 months of age and the second dose at four years of age.
Immunity to vaccine preventable diseases is not good in our community due to years of relatively low vaccination rates. A significant outbreak of measles is quite possible with a real risk of some children experiencing severe illness which may occasionally result in long-term health problems or even death.
Most people born before 1969 will be immune because measles used to be quite common. Everyone else should check that they are up to date with their vaccinations. It is never too late to catch up.
GPs will remind the parents of children who are behind with their MMR vaccinations, but if you know that your child is not up to date with their immunisations do get in touch with your GP and make an appointment.
For more information:
talk to your family doctor or practice nurse
call the Immunisation Advisory Centre toll-free phone line on 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863)
go to the Immunisation Advisory Centre website
go to the Ministry of Health website
read Immunisation: Making a choice for your children with information for parents and others about how children and young people were affected by the measles outbreak in 2011.