A rapid rise in the number of measles cases is a reminder for parents to make sure that their children’s immunisations are up to date.
There have been 90 notified measles cases so far this year – more than seven times higher than the total number of cases for all of last year.
Measles is highly infectious and spread through coughing and sneezing. It can lead to pneumonia, ear infections and in rare cases, much more serious complications, says the Ministry of Health’s Chief Advisor for Population Health Dr Greg Simmons.
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is very effective if children get it on time at 15 months and four years of age. Once fully immunised, 90 to 95 per cent of children are protected from measles.
“Talk to your family doctor or practice nurse if your child is behind with an immunisation – it’s never too late to catch up.”
Measles usually starts with a fever, conjunctivitis (red eyes), runny nose and small, irregular, bright red spots with a small white speck on the inside of the mouth. The red rash that people associate with measles may not appear until several days after the first symptoms show.
“If you think your child or someone in your family has measles, phone your doctor first and get their advice. Don’t take measles to the waiting room. We say this because measles is so infectious. It’s estimated that up to 13 people could become infected from coming into contact with just one person with this disease,” Dr Simmons says.
“People can help stop measles spreading by keeping sick children at home but don’t hesitate seek medical help if your child seems to be getting worse.”
You can also help stop measles spreading by covering your cough, using tissues, washing and drying your hands after coughing or sneezing and staying away from sick people.
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