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Measles outbreak hospitalises three, infects 17

Last updated 11:49 15/06/2011

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Three people have now required hospital treatment as a result of the latest measles outbreak in Auckland.

A total of seventeen cases in Auckland have now been confirmed, making it the second largest outbreak in the city this year.

But health officials say the outbreak of the potentially deadly illness is all linked to a single case and are confident they have it under control.

Quarantines have been imposed on around 140 students from at least two schools.

Seventy unimmunised children from Oratia District School were isolated in their homes for a fortnight after an eight-year-old boy was found to have contracted the highly infectious disease.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service medical officer Dr Richard Hoskins said seven cases were confirmed at the school, with two people hospitalised.

A further two developed serious complications, he said.

The unaffected students are due to return to school today.

A further 70 students were excluded from Epsom Girls' Grammar yesterday after a pupil - a house mate of one of the Oratia cases - contracted the illness.

Parents were asked to quarantine all unimmunised children until the risk of infection has passed.

They will be allowed to return to school on Tuesday next week, Dr Hoskins said.

Dr Hoskins said he expected some measles cases to develop as a result but did not think it would not be as many as that in the Oratia school community.

"I think the fact that we haven't got any cases outside the contact with the first wave of cases... indicates that we have a good chance of keeping this under control."

It was not yet known where the latest strain had come from though there had been five cases of the disease being imported into New Zealand from other countries so far this year.

Dr Hoskins reiterated that the disease was highly infectious; when epidemics did strike, most people who were not immune did become ill, he said.

"It makes people very sick. It spreads easily through the air, especially from coughing and sneezing," he says.

"These latest measles cases confirm that measles is still circulating in our communities and so it's really important that children are immunised to protect them from needless suffering," he says.

Vaccination was the best protection.

Along with the 16 confirmed cases so far as a result of this outbreak, more than 40 cases of measles were recorded after an outbreak earlier this year.

Those cases were linked to a mid-January flight from Brisbane to Auckland and were confirmed in Auckland, Hawke's Bay, Wellington and Christchurch.

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According to the Ministry of Health, there were 369 cases of measles in New Zealand between 2005 and 2010.

Anyone who developed common symptoms such as a red rash, runny nose, cough, sore eyes or fever, should contact their local doctor or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 before visiting a medical professional, to minimise the spread of infection.

- Stuff

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