A quick guide to measles
What is measles?
Measles is a virus that can make adults and children very sick. It is highly infectious and can spread quickly and easily through breathing, sneezing and coughing. If you are not immune to measles, you can catch the disease just by being in the same room as someone who has it.
How serious is measles?
Measles can lead to hospitalisation, serious complications (such as pneumonia and swelling of the brain) or, in rare cases, death. It is especially serious for pregnant women who are not immune, babies and people with weakened immune systems.
What are the symptoms of measles?
Measles symptoms include a high fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes. A few days later a rash starts on the face and neck, and then spreads to the rest of the body. You can have measles and spread it to others before you feel sick or show any symptoms.
What should I do if I think I or a family member has measles?
If you think you have measles, stay home and call the Medical Centre or Healthline on 0800 611 116. Healthline operates 24/7 and has a translator service available. If you are going to visit a medical centre or after hours clinic, please phone before you go. When you arrive please stay in your car and ring the Medical Centre, we will have a nurse or doctor see you in your car. Unfortunately if you enter the Medical Centre we have to close the areas that you were in for two hours. This is to prevent spreading the disease to others.
How can I protect myself and my family against measles?
The best protection against measles is to be vaccinated with two doses of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. One dose of MMR will protect around 95% of people, while two doses protect around 99% of people. In New Zealand, the MMR vaccine is routinely given to children at 15 months and four years old, but this timing can change during an outbreak. In the current Auckland outbreak, the vaccine is available to children from 12 months old. It can take two weeks for a person to be fully immune after being vaccinated.
Ministry of Health:www.health.govt.nz
Immunisation Advisory Centre: www.immune.org.nz (0800 466 863)
Healthline: 0800 611116