New Zealanders are being asked to monitor for measles symptoms after an individual with measles flew from Wellington to Auckland Jetstar Flight JQ258 on Tues 3rd October after attending a number of activities in the days prior in the capital.
“The first symptoms of measles include a fever, cough, runny nose, and sore and watery pink eyes. This is followed by a blotchy rash,” says Dr Jay Harrower, Medical Officer of Health, Te Whatu Ora Northern Region. “The illness spreads very quickly amongst people who aren’t immune.”
Dr Harrower says, “The individual, who lives in Northland, was in contact with students who attended a week-long SGCNZ National Shakespeare Schools Production event at Scots College. These students then travelled to other parts of the country.”
“We are asking those people who were at the Scots College event to isolate until they have been contacted by public health. Everyone on the flight should get vaccinated if they are not immune or if they are unsure. Those at high risk will be contacted by public health services in the next few days.
We are asking New Zealanders to be alert to the symptoms or get vaccinated if they haven’t already.”
Te Whatu Ora National Public Health Service staff around the country will be texting and contacting the students and others who have been exposed to the virus. Anyone who thinks they are a close contact should stay at home in quarantine until contacted by public health service staff.
Te Whatu Ora National Public Health Service staff around the country are working to identify people and places, provide information on public health action and support to those who may have come into contact with the individual.
Public health staff will be texting and contacting the students and others who have been exposed to the virus. Anyone who thinks they are a close contact should stay at home in quarantine until contacted by public health service staff.
Information on what you need to do if you were on the JetStar flight will be available from tomorrow on the Te Whatu Ora website. A full list of exposure events will be uploaded once Public Health Services have completed identification of these.
Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen, Chief Medical Officer for Te Aka Whai Ora I Māori Health Authority, says, “This is a serious wake-up call about the high risk of measles, particularly to our pēpi, tamariki and rangatahi. The best way you can protect them is ensuring they are immunised against measles, and the whānau around them are also immunised.”
People are considered immune if they have received two doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine or, have had a measles illness previously. Most people who lived in New Zealand before 1969 are also considered immune because measles was very common at that time.
Anyone who has not been vaccinated against measles, or who is not sure if they’ve had measles previously are recommended to be immunised with the MMR vaccine.
Two MMR vaccines are free for anyone 18 years or under, and for New Zealand residents aged over 18 years. If you or anyone in your whānau has not had an MMR vaccine or aren't sure, ask your GP, parent, or caregiver.
Dr McKree Jansen says, “We urge everyone to be aware of the symptoms of measles and to call your healthcare provider if you suspect anyone in your whānau has measles.”
Dr Harrower says, “We would like to remind people to be up to date with the immunisation. If you are unsure whether you have had one or two doses of MMR, get vaccinated as there is no additional risk in getting an extra dose.”
“We also ask the media to respect the privacy of the whānau of the individual at the centre of this case.”
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