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Measles confirmed

MEASLES may “quite likely’’ break out in the Tairawhiti region after a person, since confirmed as having the contagious virus, spent time on the East Coast and at Gisborne Airport in September.

The visitor attended two community events at Tokomaru Bay and Waipiro Bay on Friday, September 20.

Other people attending these events have been provided with advice via email, social media and healthcare staff, including instructions about staying in quarantine until this Friday, said a Hauora Tairawhiti spokeswoman.

The person also spent time at Gisborne Airport on Tuesday, September 24, between 11.45am and 1.40pm, before travelling to Auckland on flight NZ8170.

“Because of the large number of possible contacts on both these dates, it is quite likely that other cases will occur over the next week,’’ said Hauora Tairawhiti medical officer of health Dr Margot McLean.

People who were at the airport during this time and up to two hours after this time, or on this flight, are at risk of developing measles if they are not immune.

People over 50 and those who have had measles or two MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations — usually given at 15 months and four years — are considered immune.

For people without immunity who were in contact with the person with confirmed measles, symptoms are likely to start between Tuesday, October 1, and Tuesday, October 8, says medical officer of health Dr Margot McLean.

“They are advised to be aware of the signs and symptoms of measles.

“They can call Healthline for advice on 0800 611 116.

“Early symptoms of measles are a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes.

“The rash comes on after three to five days, and usually develops at the head and then becomes widespread over the body.

“If you suspect that you have measles, please contact your health centre for advice by phone.

“Do not visit. You will spread to others.

“The doctor or nurse will give you advice and if they need to see you, they will arrange a time when there are no other people around.”

More than 30 percent of the people who have been diagnosed with measles during this national outbreak have needed hospital admission.

Young children who are not immunised are at the highest risk of measles and its complications. The MMR vaccine is available and free for any children under five who are not up to date with their 15-month and four-year-old vaccinations.

Ministry of Health figures show there have been 1544 confirmed cases of measles notified across New Zealand in 2019 up to September 27, with 1282 of these confirmed cases in the Auckland region.