North­land measles count rises to nine

The Northland Age - - Local News -

Three more con­firmed cases of measles in North­land in about as many days has taken the to­tal to nine.

The lat­est pa­tients, all unim­mu­nised and liv­ing in Whanga¯rei, are aged from 25 to 58.

Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer of Health Dr Catherine Jack­son said con­tact trac­ing had re­vealed that peo­ple had un­wit­tingly vis­ited Whanga¯rei Hos­pi­tal while they were in­fec­tious, and before the rash had ap­peared, which high­lighted the ex­treme care ev­ery­one needed to be tak­ing.

“We know that measles is cir­cu­lat­ing in North­land, and is well and truly here now, so we need ev­ery­one in the com­mu­nity to be vig­i­lant around the signs and symp­toms and know what to do if they have been ex­posed or are ex­hibit­ing symp­toms of measles,” she said. The first sign of in­fec­tion was a high fever fol­lowed by a cough, runny nose and sore, red eyes. Af­ter three or four days a rash ap­peared on the face, then spread to the body.

Measles was in­fec­tious for five days before the rash ap­peared un­til five days af­ter it had gone, and spread very eas­ily.

“It is really im­por­tant to stay at home un­til you feel bet­ter, and for at least five days af­ter the rash ap­pears,” Dr Jack­son said.

“If you get a rash then call Health­line on 0800 611-116 for ad­vice and in­for­ma­tion in the first in­stance. Some peo­ple get very un­well with measles, and if you need to see a doc­tor please call ahead to your GP or the emer­gency de­part­ment so they can pre­pare for your ar­rival.”

All three new cases had been very un­well, one be­ing ad­mit­ted to the ICU, while 30 peo­ple were in iso­la­tion be­cause they are at high risk.

If there was a case of measles at a school, early child­hood cen­tre or work­place, the North­land Pub­lic Health Unit would re­quest that unim­mu­nised adults and/or chil­dren do not at­tend the fa­cil­ity for up to two weeks if they had been ex­posed to some­one with the in­fec­tion.

“We are aware of the im­pact that iso­la­tion for a week or more has on fam­ily and work­ing lives, but we have to bal­ance this with the need to pre­vent the fur­ther spread of measles, and to pro­tect in­fants, those most at risk of com­pli­ca­tions if they con­tract the dis­ease, and the wider com­mu­nity,” Dr Jack­son said.

“We do want to thank peo­ple for stay­ing in iso­la­tion, and for be­ing im­mu­nised, be­cause this is really help­ing stop the spread of measles.”

Any­one who was feeling un­well was asked not to visit hos­pi­tal pa­tients.

One com­pli­cat­ing fac­tor at this time of year, she added, was the pres­ence of in­fluenza, which had sim­i­lar signs and symp­toms to measles in its early stages.

PIC­TURE / NZ HER­ALD

Pa­tients and staff at Whanga¯ rei Hos­pi­tal might have been ex­posed to measles.

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