Northland District Health Board Wednesday 31 March 2010, 11:52AM
Media release from Northland District Health
Hokianga Measles Outbreak - Northland situation update
Northland District Health Board urges Northlanders to check that
their family members are protected from Measles. This follows
the outbreak of cases of measles in the region.
At this stage the outbreak is confined to the family group
identified to health authorities and their close associates. A
possible case in Wellington linked to this outbreak is still not
As at 31 March - the number of confirmed and probable cases of
measles in Northland:
• 5 laboratory confirmed
• 23 clinically compatible cases who
are linked to the above confirmed cases
Of those affected 86% are under the age of 20 years.
The Hokianga community has low immunisation rates; therefore there
is a high risk that measles may have spread beyond this group to
other communities in Northland and other parts of New
This outbreak underscores once again the importance of immunisation
in preventing this disease.
The Ministry of Health is asking all general practitioners to be
alert to possible measles cases and notify any suspected cases to
their local Medical Officer of Health. Measles, mumps and rubella
(MMR) vaccine is available free to all children aged from 15 months
and four years of age, and any adult under the age of 40 who wants
Northland general practitioners and practice nurses have been asked
to offer MMR vaccination to all unvaccinated children from the age
of 12 months because of the risk of an large outbreak in
It is estimated that 90 to 95 per cent of people are protected from
measles once they have had both doses.
Measles has the potential to make children very sick for one to two
weeks, with the symptoms including high fever, hacking cough, red
eyes, running nose and a rash. A number of rash-causing
illnesses can appear to be very similar to measles including
Local health provider, Hokianga Health, is in regular contact with
Dr Jarman advising him of any situation developments in the area,
and is continuing to work with the family.
Dr Jarman urges caregivers to check that their children have been
vaccinated against measles.
"One measles injection is good but two are better - two measles
injections give 90-95% protection from measles."
Because measles is a severe illness it is also important for
caregivers to seek medical advice if their children become
Measles starts like a flu-like illness but it steadily gets worse
with a high fever and cough. The characteristic rash appears
after several days. It is extremely infectious, so please phone
ahead to your doctor to ensure the safety of other patients and
"If your child is sick seek advice from your doctor or practice
nurse, or call Healthline on 0800 611 116".
Symptoms of Measles:
• High Fever
• Hacking Cough
• Red Eyes
• Running Nose
• Initially presents like a 'cold' but then gets
• Rash appears 3-4 days after initial
• Ear infections, diarrhoea, and/or pneumonia are
• Most children take one to two weeks to
More information about immunisation and the National Immunisation
Schedule is available at www.moh.govt.nz/immuniation.
The Immunisation Advisory Centre offers independent advice about
immunisation through its toll-free line 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863)
and at its website.