Schools act swiftly as measles cases climb

AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 17/06/2014

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Fifty-three people in Hamilton are now confirmed to have been stricken with measles, three of whom are in hospital with the highly contagious infection.

Several cases were associated with Fraser High School and one at Hamilton Girls' High School and Hamilton Junior High School.

Hamilton Girls' High School principal Marie Gordon said the school responded swiftly to the one confirmed case.

"We did not make this decision lightly - we were given direction by [Waikato District Health Board] Population Health and we had to act on it," she said.

Gordon said the school was "light on numbers" yesterday with 500 pupils absent.

"Some families have had mixed reactions, but this really was not my decision."

Meanwhile, Fraser High School will return to a full cohort today, after keeping half its numbers off on alternate days because several staff were off sick with measles.

An email sent to all parent said all immunised students in years 9 to 13 would be able to attend school.

The public health unit is still investigating at least another eight suspected cases from across the city.

Of the 53 cases, only one person was fully immunised with two doses of Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine and only two cases had at least one documented immunisation.

"It's important that, with the spread outside of the Fraser High School community, people make themselves aware of the signs and symptoms of measles and to check their child's immunity status," said Waikato DHB medical officer of health Dr Anita Bell.

All schools have notified parents of the outbreak and both Girls' High and Fraser High have initiated a quarantine programme which is expected to continue until June 23.

Amid fears the outbreak may spread to the wider community, local schools in the Piako region have cautioned families to check their immunisation status.

Tatuanui school has notified parents of measles symptoms in their newsletter.

Population Health service has sent information to all schools, early childcare centres and general practices in the region.

Head teachers at all kindergartens in Hamilton's west were contacted by The Waikato Times yesterday, but none suspected or confirmed cases of measles.

All kindergartens confirmed they had notified parents and directed them to information on the Ministry of Health website.

Anyone displaying symptoms of measles, which include fever, cough, blocked nose, sore red eyes and a small dotty red rash should immediately telephone their doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice.

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- Waikato Times

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