Measles confirmed, checks urged

The Southern District Health Board is urging Dunedin residents to check for measles symptoms after a case was confirmed in a man who travelled to the city.

The DHB today alerted Dunedin residents and passengers from the city to Auckland on Tuesday, July 23, they may have been exposed to the infectious disease.

A man with a confirmed case of measles visited St Clair's Esplanade Restaurant in St Clair on Monday, July 22, stayed overnight at Bluestone on George and visited Market Kitchen restaurant on the Tuesday.

He was also in both Dunedin and Auckland terminals on the Tuesday during which he travelled on Air NZ 674.

Southern DHB medical officer of health Dr Anura Jayasinghe said he urged anyone who was not sure if they were immune to measles and may have been in contact with the case to check their status with their general practitioner.

Pregnant women and immunocompromised people should be especially vigilant, he said.

"It usually takes 10-14 days for someone who has caught measles to develop symptoms.

"If anyone has been infected at the locations listed, they could start to develop symptoms from as soon as tomorrow. Symptoms include a high fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes.

"A few days later a rash starts on the face and neck, before spreading to the rest of the body.''

The DHB asked people who were in those locations to keep a "close eye'' out for symptoms.

"If you develop symptoms, stay home and phone your general practice or Healthline (0800 611 116) and let them know that you have potentially been in contact with a confirmed measles case.''

The measles virus spreads easily via infectious droplets from person to person through the air from breathing, coughing and sneezing.

Those over 50 years are considered to be immune as the virus circulated widely when they were children.

Vaccination with the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine offers the best protection against measles.

One dose will prevent measles in 95 per cent of people, while having two doses will protect 99 per cent of people who have the vaccine.

Children are routinely vaccinated against measles at 15 months and four years.

MMR vaccination is free for anyone born after 1969, over 4 years of age, who has not had two doses.

"Anyone with measles needs to be isolated from the time they become ill until 5 days after the rash has appeared,'' Dr Jayasinghe said.

This meant staying at home and missing out on things like school, work, sporting competitions and social events.

"Although it's important to get vaccines on time, every time, it's never too late.  If you need more information on immunisation contact your family doctor.''

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