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Get measles protection

DIANA WORTHY
Last updated 05:00 05/03/2014
Megan Yates
Dinaa Worthy
HEALTH ALERT: Free jabs against measles are available on the island for anyone not immune, Waiheke Health Trust lead nurse Megan Yates says. 

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An outbreak of measles in Auckland is prompting health officials to remind people how easy it is to catch the virus.

"Just being in the same room as someone with measles can lead to infection if you are not immunised," Auckland Regional Public Health Service says.

The warning comes after the virus struck down 20 students from Westlake Boys High School, with non-immunised students being asked to stay home until March 8.

All passengers flying on Malaysia Airlines flight MH0131 from Kuala Lumpur to Auckland arriving lunchtime on February 20 are also at risk and being traced by health officers.

A passenger on the flight has been confirmed with measles.

"The passenger with measles would have been infectious at the time of their travel on this flight," medical health officer Dr Catherine Jackson says.

She says any passengers on that flight who feel unwell should phone their GP or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.

Auckland now has more than 40 confirmed cases.

Waiheke Health Trust lead nurse Megan Yates says there are no cases of the virus on the island to date but says it is wise to plan ahead.

"Measles is an airborne virus, spread by droplets from someone sneezing and coughing.

"You're actually infectious for four days before you get any symptoms. Then you get little white spots in the mouth followed by the measles rash.

"It's like a very fine, red rash starting at the head and going down the trunk and to the extremities."

She says parents and carers of children who have not had the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccinations may find it difficult to work if their children are not allowed in school during an outbreak.

Up to date vaccinations are also important for travel.

She says getting MMR jabs done now is a good idea for anyone planning to leave the country at some stage in their lives.

The vaccinations are free at health centres to people of all ages including children and babies aged 15 months and upwards. Two doses of the vaccine offer nearly 100 per cent immunity.

See website immune.org.nz for more information.

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