Twenty health staff working to contact people who may have been exposed to measles in Wellington
Twenty Regional Public Health (RPH) staff have been called on to contact people who may have been exposed to measles over the past week.
The revelation comes after two people who contracted the illness visited multiple public locations around Wellington from October 7-12, potentially exposing large numbers of people to the infectious disease.
Those locations included City Fitness Johnsonville, New World supermarkets in Thorndon and central Wellington, and the Dylan Moran show at Wellington's Michael Fowler Centre.
The two, who were unaware they had the disease, also visited Wellington Regional Hospital, Neo Cafe and Eatery in central Wellington, and Sprig and Fern Tavern in Petone.
RPH medical officer of health Dr Craig Thornley said staff were attempting to track down people who may have come into contact with the infectious pair.
"We are attempting to identify all those who have been in close contact with the people while they were infectious.
"We currently have 20 public health staff involved in tracing the contacts from these two confirmed cases."
RPH could not confirm how many people had been contacted to date however warnings were issued to the multiple businesses and venues where the infected people had been and people have since come forward to update their vaccination status.
On Wednesday more than 1000 children and adults were told they may have to go into quarantine after a child with measles attended a church camp in Rotorua.
An Auckland child who attended the Seventh Day Adventist camp at Tui Ridge exposed 1200 campgoers to measles during the school holidays.
From January 1 to October 16 there have been 1840 confirmed cases of measles across New Zealand, 1489 of those were in the Auckland region.
University of Otago, Wellington Public health professor Michael Baker said measles was among the "most infectious diseases known" with a real risk that unvaccinated people could be infected just by being in the same room as a person with the disease.
"If they are vaccinated then it doesn't matter."
He said New Zealand did have some immunity gaps, particularly in people aged between 15 and 35 which may be a major factor in the most recent measles outbreak.
Baker expected there would continue to be measles cases confirmed for many months to come.
New Zealand has had an elimination status for measles since 2017 - given to countries absent to virus transmission for 12 months or longer.
But the current outbreak, which started in March 2019, could threaten that status if there were continued outbreaks into early 2020, Baker added.
The status could be saved but it would take a "concerted effort" to vaccinate those people who made up the country's immunity gap.
"Losing elimination status would have public health and symbolic importance. It would put New Zealand among the group of countries in our region which have poor measles control and are exporters of disease to neighbouring countries, such as Pacific Islands.
"It would also damage our reputation as a relatively good performer in some areas of public health. There would probably be no consequences for New Zealanders travelling overseas unless measles was declared a public health emergency of international concern."
The first symptoms are: fever, tiredness, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes.
After four to five days a red blotchy rash appears. The rash starts behind the ears, spreads to the face over one to two days and then spreads down to the body. The rash will last for four to seven days.
If you develop any symptoms of measles keep away from public places.
Contact a doctor as soon as possible so a diagnosis can be confirmed. Alternatively, contact Healthline 0800 611 116, for free advice from experienced nurses.
Where the infected pair went:
October 7: City Fitness, Johnsonville between 6am-8.30am
October 8: City Fitness, Johnsonville between 6am-8.30am and Neo Cafe and Eatery, Wellington. between 9am-4.30pm, Sprig and Fern Tavern, Petone between 7pm-10.15pm
October 9: City Fitness, Johnsonville 6am-8.30am, Neo Cafe and Eatery 7am-4.30pm, New World Thorndon 4.30pm -6pm
October 10: City Fitness, Johnsonville 6am- 8.30am, Neo Cafe and Eatery, 7am -1pm, New World Thorndon 4.30pm- 6pm, Wellington Hospital Emergency Department 3.30pm-10pm
October 11: City Fitness, Johnsonville 6am-8.30am, New World Chaffers, Wellington between 1pm-6pm
October 12: City Fitness Thorndon 8.30am-10am, Michael Fowler Centre (Dylan Moran show) 7pm-11pm