New measles case confirmed in South Canterbury

A Timaru woman has been confirmed as having measles. Community and Public Health has been working to identify all close contacts both at work, and in her private life – determining their immunisation status and offering advice regarding what further action they should take.

Anyone who was in the following location at the times listed should be aware that they may have been exposed and at risk of developing measles, unless they are sure they’ve had two MMR vaccinations or are over 50 years of age. If they are not in either of those two groups, they should isolate themselves at home until the dates listed (inclusive):

  • At New World supermarket in Timaru between 6.30 and 7.40pm on Friday 25th October – remain isolated until Friday 8th November; and
  • At Movie Max 5 in Timaru between 1.10 and 4pm on Saturday 26th October – remain isolated until Saturday 9th November.

Get immunised against measles

South Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink, says immunisation is the best protection against measles. This is especially important for children who haven’t yet had their MMR
vaccinations scheduled at 15 months and 4 years. These children are currently top priority for vaccination.

“If you are unwell and think it might be measles, stay at home and telephone your General Practice team any time of day or night. Please don’t visit your GP team, other health provider or a hospital in person as this will spread the illness. If it’s an emergency call 111,” says Dr Brunton.

People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR vaccine, have already had measles previously, or were born before 1969 – people born before this time will have been exposed to measles and most will therefore have had it.

Help stop the spread of measles

Dr Pink advises that “people are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash until four days after the rash appears, so it is possible to transmit the infection before you feel unwell. People who have been exposed and who are not immune should remain isolated from 7 days after their first exposure to 14 days after their last exposure.”

“This means staying home from school or work and having no contact with unimmunised people. If you are not sure whether you are immune telephone your General Practice team – they can advise you,” says Dr Pink.

Anyone with measles symptoms or who believes they may have been exposed, can contact their usual general practice 24/7 for additional advice. If people call their GP Team after hours, they can
be put through to a nurse who can provide free health advice and advise what to do and where to go if you need to be seen urgently.

Key information about measles including signs and symptoms

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing.

Symptoms of measles include:

  • A respiratory type of illness with dry cough, runny nose, and headache;
  • Temperature over 38.5ºC and feeling very unwell; and
  • A red blotchy rash starts on day 4 or 5 of the illness usually on the face and moves to the chest and arms.

People are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash to five days after the rash starts. Infected persons should stay in isolation – staying home from school or work – during this time.

The best protection from measles is to have two MMR vaccinations. MMR is available from your family practice and is free to eligible persons. Children and people who have never been immunised are the priorities for the vaccine.

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

Anyone believing they have been exposed to measles or exhibiting symptoms should not go to the Emergency Department, after hours’ clinic or general practitioner. Instead call your GP any time 24/7 for free health advice.

Source: South Canterbury District Health Board media release (30th October 2019).

Published on Thursday, October 17th, 2019, under Uncategorised
Page last updated: 11/11/2019

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