New Zealand has confirmed its first case of measles since 2019.
The infected individual is an adult living in Auckland, who reportedly contracted the infection overseas. The patient only became infectious after their arrival in New Zealand.
As a result, contact tracing is currently underway, and public exposure events held between 5 February and 11 February are being investigated – including a festival in Waikato, chartered bus transport, meals, and a hotel in Tauranga, as well as a pharmacy and supermarket in Auckland’s Central Business District.
Health officials have urged anyone who attended these events to be alert to the symptoms of measles, which include a fever, cough, runny nose, sore eyes, and a blotchy rash.
According to Dr. Nick Chamberlain, Director of the National Public Health Service, measles is much more contagious than COVID-19, particularly among individuals who are not immune.
Dr. Chamberlain added that the most important thing people can do to protect themselves is to ensure they and their children are immunised.
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People are considered immune if they have received two doses of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, have had a previous measles illness, or were born before 1969.
Te Whatu Ora, the organisation responsible for public health in New Zealand, is currently tracing all contacts of the infected person to check their immunity and offer vaccination if necessary.
Measles is highly contagious and can be transmitted by coughing and sneezing. Infected individuals are contagious four days before and four days after the rash appears.
New Zealand has been preparing for further cases of measles and encourages everyone to get vaccinated. Public health officials urge everyone to check their immunity and contact their doctor or Healthline if they are unsure.
Only recently, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) warned measles cases could surge in South Africa as classrooms were bound to reopen.
The NICD confirmed that from epidemiological week 40 of 2022 to 01 of 2023, a total of 357 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported from five provinces with declared measles outbreaks in Limpopo (140 cases), Mpumalanga (75 cases), North West (114 cases), Gauteng (16 cases), and Free State (12 cases).