Controlling the spread of infectious diseases
Community and Public Health is responsible for investigating cases of infectious diseases, as well as controlling their spread within our community. The goal is to reduce future occurrences of infectious disease.
Community and Public Health compiles and reports data on infectious disease trends for our region (disease surveillance).
Staff are also prepared to deal with large local, regional or national outbreaks or health emergencies. Examples include a national flu pandemic or the threat of water-borne diseases in the Christchurch Earthquake aftermath.
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. The vaccine is available from your general practice and is free to eligible persons. 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.
Some infectious diseases must be reported
The Health Act 1956 requires medical practices and other agencies or institutions, to report the following notifiable disease types to the local Medical Officer of Health:
- Common enterics (such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Yersinia);
- Serious enteric (such as Typhoid, Shigella, Cholera, Paratyphoid, Listeria, Hepatitis A);
- Vaccine preventable (such as Measles, Mumps, Pertussis/Whooping Cough, Rubella); and
- Other Serious (such as Meningitis, Legionella, Mosquito borne diseases, Avian Influenza, Hepatitis B and C).
Response to a disease notification
The Communicable Disease Team’s response to a notification depends on the urgency and potential severity of the disease, and may involve:
- an investigation into the source of the infection to protect those possibly exposed and to prevent its recurrence;
- offering preventive medication or vaccination to people who have been in contact with an infected person;
- taking samples from an infected person to confirm the diagnosis or confirm if a person is still infectious; and
- finding out more information through a questionnaire, hospital visit or interview.
Previous measles outbreak in Canterbury
Canterbury health authorities declared the measles outbreak that started in the region on 16th February officially over on Thursday 16th May 2019.
Prevention is better than cure
Infectious disease prevention is also a big priority for Community and Public Health. The National Immunisation Programme for children is important in protecting against diseases such as measles. Another valuable vaccination programme is the annual influenza vaccination for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and chronically ill.
Medical Officers of Health are responsible for authorising vaccinators, and Communicable Disease staff can provide advice on immunisation issues.
Contact the Communicable Disease staff at your local office for further information:
Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6484
Ph: +64 3 687 2600
Fax: +64 3 688 6091
Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169
Become an Authorised Vaccinator
Community and Public Health deals with applications and renewals for authorised vaccinators and vaccination centres.
Signage for organisers of A&P Shows
The following signs were developed by Community and Public Health for use in areas at A&P Shows where people (especially children) have close contact with animals – such as petting areas or stock display pens.
These signs encourage not eating or drinking in these areas and washing or sanitising hands after touching animals. Print and laminate these signs for your next A&P Show.
Contact your local office about borrowing hand sanitiser stands for your upcoming A&P Show.
Travel Health and Vaccination
Community and Public Health no longer provides information on vaccinations for overseas travel.
Contact your local medical practice or a specialist travel medicine clinic (as listed in the Medical section of the White Pages) for more information.