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Church services go on despite measles scare

Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014

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Services at an inner city church will go ahead this Sunday, despite a member of the congregation being diagnosed with measles.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service has confirmed one case of the highly infectious viral disease in a person who attended Freemans Bay's Victory Christian Church on January 19.

About 300 people attended the service, Victory general manager Pearl Wilson says.

No cases have been reported to the church since the alert went out.

"Church members are doing very well," Ms Wilson says.

The infected person was unaware they had measles when they attended church.

The church has been checking on elderly and pregnant parishioners as well as those with young children.

About 100 people attended a prayer meeting on Tuesday night and a measles fact sheet was handed out.

Information on symptoms and appropriate action was emailed to congregation members and staff on Monday.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service recommends anyone who was at the church between 10.45am and 1.30pm on January 19, who is not immunised or unsure of their immune status, should isolate themselves at home if they develop any measles symptoms before February 3.

Symptoms start with a high fever which develops about 10 days after exposure to someone with the virus.

This can be followed by a runny nose, cough, red eyes and small white spots inside the mouth. A red blotchy rash on the neck and face appears after three or four days before spreading to the rest of the body.

Medical officer of health Dr Cathy Pikholz says measles is one of the most contagious diseases, preventable by vaccine.

"One person with measles can infect many others."

Immunisation is the only way to prevent it, she says.

Anyone with measles symptoms or concerns should phone their GP or Healthline on 0800 611 116. Phone ahead of visiting your GP to avoid spreading measles in waiting rooms.

Measles is covered by the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule and young children are usually vaccinated as with the MMR vaccine. See health.govt.nz

MEASLES FACTS

Measles is a serious and highly infectious viral disease that can make people very sick and can lead to hospitalisation or, in rare cases, death.

It is spread from person to person through the air by breathing, sneezing or coughing.

Just being in the same room as someone with measles can lead to infection if you are not immunised.

One person with measles can pass on the disease to 13 other people who have not been immunised.

The early symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, sore red eyes and white spots inside the mouth.

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After 3 to 5 days a rash appears on the face and then moves down the body.

Up to one in 3 people with measles develops complications. Acute encephalitis (brain inflammation) develops in 1 in 1000 cases.

Pregnant women who get measles are at risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and having a low birth weight baby.

The best protection against measles is immunisation with a vaccine called MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). 

- Auckland City Harbour News

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