St John staff quarantined with measles

Last updated 05:00 28/09/2011

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A measles outbreak in Auckland has spread to St John ambulance staff, with at least one confirmed case and several other staff in quarantine.

Staff have been told to don masks, gloves and disposable overalls when treating suspected measles patients, and to clean ambulances thoroughly after transporting them to hospital.

There have been 179 confirmed cases of measles in Auckland since May 30, 11 of them in the past week; 26 people have had to be admitted to hospital. In a leaked memo to clinical staff, St John medical director Tony Smith said one Auckland staff member had been confirmed at the end of last week as having measles.

Ambulance crew were being given special instructions for treating people who could have measles: "All members attending the patient ... must wear gloves, an N95 mask [respirator] and disposable overalls. The patient should be given an ordinary surgical mask to wear, ensuring that the mouth and nose are fully covered."

After transporting suspected measles patients, ambulances needed to be decontaminated with disinfectant, by staff wearing protective equipment.

The early symptoms of measles are fever, runny nose, cough, sore red eyes and white spots on the inside of the mouth.

Measles is a highly infectious disease that can have serious complications such as ear infection, pneumonia and brain damage, and can be fatal.

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- The Dominion Post

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