Armageddon measles? You may need to check

Waikato DHB warns of infection risk at expo

MIKE MATHER
Last updated 12:11 30/05/2014
 Armageddon
Nick Reed/Fairfax NZ

CULTURE: Thousands of people turned up to Armageddon to to buy memorobillia and get autographs - but they may have got a case of measles as well.

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If you attended the Armageddon Expo in Hamilton on Sunday there is a chance you may have been exposed to measles.

That's the word from the Waikato District Health Board, which has sounded the alarm that someone with a confirmed case of measles case attended the second day of the pop culture convention at Claudelands Event Centre.

The person was well, but would have been infectious at the time, Waikato medical officer of health Dr Anita Bell said.

"Those who attended the event on Sunday need to be mindful of the signs and symptoms of measles within the next few weeks," Bell said.

"And it's a timely reminder to everyone else to check that they and their children are fully immunised against measles."

Waikato DHB's population health service has recently been notified of several confirmed cases of measles in Hamilton.

"While there have been a number of cases of measles in New Zealand, the majority in Auckland, these are the first confirmed cases of measles in the Waikato," Bell said.

Anyone who attended the event on Sunday should check if they were not immune to measles.

People who are regarded as not immune to measles are: 

  • People younger than 45 years old (born after January 1, 1969) who have not had two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine or have not had a laboratory confirmed positive measles result.
  • Children over four years old who have not received their second dose of MMR. 
  • Infants under the age of 15 months who have not received their first routine dose of MMR vaccine.  They are susceptible and rely on everyone else to be immune so that measles does not spread to them.

"Measles can be a very serious illness, with one in three sufferers experiencing complications such as ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis or diarrhoea," Bell said.

"While one in 10 on average requires hospitalisation, admission rates in this outbreak have been higher."

Immunisation is the best protection from this potentially serious disease.

"Immunisation protects not only the individual, but also blocks the spread of this disease within our communities,"Bell said.

Unimmunised people who have had contact with a person with measles, are normally be advised to stay at home and away from all public places, school or work for 14 days after their contact.

Anyone born before 1969 or who has received two doses of MMR can reasonably assume they are already immune.

If families suspect someone has measles they should call their doctor, where possible, before visiting to avoid spreading the disease while waiting.

Measles is spread by tiny droplets in the air and is one of the few diseases that can spread so easily to those nearby.

Bell said anyone displaying symptoms of measles - which include fever, cough, blocked nose, sore red eyes - should immediately telephone their doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.

Visit waikatodhb.health.nz/measles for more information. 

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What is measles?

  • Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can be serious.
  • 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 immune.

Who is at risk of measles infection?

People are at risk of getting measles if they are not immune to measles. People who are regarded as not immune to measles are:

  • People younger than 45 years old (born after 01 January 1969) who have not had two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • Infants under the age of 15 months who have not received their first routine dose of MMR vaccine. They are susceptible and rely on everyone else to be immune so that measles does not spread to them.
  • Children over 4 years old who have not received their second dose of MMR.

What should you do?

  • Ensure you are up to date with your immunisations.
  • If you are not immune it is important to be aware of the symptoms of measles. The early symptoms of measles are fever, runny nose, sore red eyes and cough.
  • After 3-5 days a red, blotchy rash appears on the face and head and then spreads down the body.

If you develop symptoms of measles:

  • Stay at home and away from public places (such as sports events, gatherings, parties, school, work, child care, shopping centres, public transport and so on).
  • See your doctor as soon as possible so a diagnosis can be confirmed. However, phone the surgery ahead to alert them of your symptoms and to allow them to make arrangements to assess you safely and without infecting other people.

• If you are unable to visit your GP phone Healthline on 0800 611 116.

- Waikato Times

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