Canterbury health authorities have today declared the measles outbreak that started in the region on 16 February officially over.
Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Ramon Pink says there have now been two full incubation periods since the last case was infectious.
“While it’s great we can declare Canterbury’s measles outbreak officially over, the reality is that measles is only a plane ride away,” says Dr Pink.
Auckland, Bay of Plenty, and Lakes DHBs are still dealing with their own outbreaks. Cases have also been reported in the Northland, Wellington and Waikato DHB areas.
Dr Pink says that all of these cases have come from travellers bringing the disease from overseas.
“Measles is running rampant in several countries right now – the number of new cases worldwide rose by 300% during the first three months of 2019.
“Measles is an ever present threat and the only way we can stop measles from returning is to increase immunity in our community.”
Dr Pink says the MMR vaccination is free for those under 50 who haven’t had two doses.
“We are still encouraging people, especially children, teenagers and young adults who have never been vaccinated to get immunised. As well as vaccinating those who have never been vaccinated, those who have had one vaccine are being encouraged to get a second.”
Dr Pink says he is proud of the Canterbury Health System’s response to the outbreak.
“Over the last three months people from right across the Canterbury Health System have worked tirelessly to put the lid on this outbreak. There’s been a huge response from primary care, labs, Christchurch Hospital as well as public health action in contact tracing and case management.
“Cantabrians have responded extremely well themselves, and I’d like to thank them for taking this outbreak so seriously, adhering to our advice and getting vaccinated.
“I’d also like to acknowledge the support of the media to help us communicate these important messages about measles immunisation to the public.
“While we’ve achieved a great result, we know that we must increase the immunity of our community, to minimise the impact of another measles outbreak.”
Note to Editors
• In Canterbury there were a total of 38 confirmed measles cases linked to the outbreak, plus one additional case.