Measles 'more dangerous' than swine flu

Swine flu was creating a lot of excitement, but the recent outbreak of measles in Dunedin was "actually much, much more dangerous", the Otago District Health Board chief medical officer says.

"To put the 26 [now 31] Dunedin cases into perspective, in the whole of the United States there are on average 64 cases of measles a year," Richard Bunton said.

People underestimated how significant the measles outbreak was, he told the hospital advisory committee yesterday.

Up to 15% of people who got measles required time in hospital.

Possible complications from the disease include pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain).

All of the Dunedin cases occurred in non-vaccinated people, Mr Bunton said.

Public Health South officials told the Otago Daily Times last week there had been 31 cases in Dunedin, in people aged from 4 to 22 years, and they believed there could be more they did not know about.

All of the cases can be traced to the original four which turned up in an unvaccinated family which had travelled to Vietnam in January.

Logan Park High School and at least one other school, which officials would not identify, have had cases of the illness.

The measles cases are the first in Dunedin since 2001.

 

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