Parents urged to spot measles

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Health authorities are warning parents, including those in Tamahere, to be vigilant after an outbreak of measles in the Waikato.

Medical Office of Health Dr Dell Hood reminds parents that measles is a severe illness and those who are not immunised are most at risk.

The outbreak, which started about a week ago, appears to be centred on Te Awamutu but hundreds of people are likely to have come in contact with the infected people and the disease could spread far and wide.

“They may already have infected other non immune people so more cases are likely,” Dr Hood said.

Over the past couple of years more than 200 children and adults have caught measles in outbreaks throughout New Zealand. Some were so sick they had to be hospitalised. Around one in 1000 people who get measles will die from it.

Measles facts

The incubation period for measles is usually 10 – 12 days but may be longer.

Measles is a severe illness which begins with fever, cough, sore eyes, and generally feeling unwell. The rash does not appear for some days, and the sufferer remains unwell for several more days after the rash appears.

People with measles can spread it to others from the beginning of their illness until four days after their rash has appeared.

People who may have been in contact with measles will be protected if they have had two doses of Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. Check with your doctor or nurse if you are not sure if you or your children are protected.

Anyone in contact with a measles sufferer who is not immune or not immunised must stay away from work, school or preschool, stay at home and avoid visitors for 14 days, to avoid spreading the illness

Anyone who thinks they or their child may have measles should call their family doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for more advice. If visits to the doctor or laboratory are needed, phone in advance so contact with other people can be minimised.

See here for more on measles including fact sheets for parents and pregnant women.

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