Armageddon measles? Go for a checkup

MIKE MATHER
Last updated 05:00 31/05/2014
Armageddon Hamilton
NICK REED/Fairfax NZ

CULTURE CLASH: Thousands of people turned up to Armageddon to to buy memorabilia and get autographs – but they may have been exposed to 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 attended the second day of the pop culture convention at Claudelands Event Centre.

However, Armageddon organisers say they feel the health board has been scaremongering and hope those attending this weekend's second event in Wellington can exercise common sense and stay away if they suspect they are unwell.

"Everybody I know who attended the Hamilton event suffered no ill effects, apart from possibly having too much fun," expo organiser Bill Geradts said.

"Short of personally wrapping everybody who comes this weekend in bubble wrap and issuing them each with a gas mask, there is not much we can do. All we can hope is that parents who bring their kids to the show have been sensible and have immunised their kids against measles and other infections.

"We have not received any notification from the health board about the Hamilton event, aside from a nebulous press release they issued. They seem to have singled us out - did this kid go to the shopping mall? Did he go to the movies? Did he go to school? The bottom line is if you think or know your kid is sick, don't take them out into the world."

According to Waikato medical officer of health, Dr Anita Bell, the measles-afflicted person was well at the time of his or her visit to Armageddon, but would have been infectious.

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

Bell said immunisation was the best protection from this potentially serious disease.

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

Unimmunised people who have had contact with a person with measles, will 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 included fever, cough, blocked nose, sore red eyes - should immediately telephone their doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116.

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

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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