National measles warning as infections soar

DONNA LEE BIDDLE
Last updated 05:00 29/06/2014

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Parents are being urged to immunise their children amid fears the measles outbreak in Waikato could spread nationwide.

Eighty-four cases of measles have been confirmed in the Waikato and one case in Taranaki.

Waikato DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Anita Bell, said information has been circulated to all schools, early childhood centres and general practices.

"It's important that with the spread outside of the Fraser High School community, that people make themselves aware of the signs and symptoms of measles and to check their child's immunity status."

Kat Gamble's 5-year-old son Tiyrhin had a mouth swab and will have a blood test to confirm if he has measles.

"At first I thought it was hayfever because the first thing he complained about was sore eyes ... then I realised he had a temp, checked and it was 39.6. He then said his neck was sore."

The mother-of-four took her son to hospital, hoping he would be diagnosed with something like conjunctivitis.

"[The triage nurse] checked his temp and blood pressure then he got rushed to a room, temp was 40.3 and climbing. Tiy's been immunised, so it would be very unlucky if he does have it."

Of the 84 cases, only four have been immunised with two documented doses of the measles, mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and four cases have received one documented dose of MMR.

Managing director of Te Kohao Health in Hamilton, Tureiti Omoxon, said there has been a large increase of parents wanting to immunise their children. "We get referrals from practitioners and our nurses immunise children in their homes."

Five Waikato schools have confirmed cases. The spread is largely associated with Fraser High School but Frankton Primary School, Nga Taiatea Wharekura, Raglan Area School and Hamilton Boys High School all have confirmed cases.

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

Since December 2013, there have been more than 200 confirmed measles cases.

In the past five years the worst outbreak of measles was in 2011 when 560 cases were notified and around 80 of those were hospitalised.

Anyone displaying symptoms of measles should immediately telephone their doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.

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