At a Glance: What is measles?

At a Glance: What is measles?

Measles has been a word flung around in the news frequently of late -- but what actually is it?

Categorised as a viral disease, measles is known for being extremely infectious to those who aren't immunised and can result in hospitalisation if not treated appropriately.

On February 17, news broke a man infected with measles had entered SkyCity Casino and the exclusive Sugar Tree apartments just over a week prior and ignored incubation requests from health officials.

That is where things start to get messy, because with measles, a person is infectious for 10 days without symptoms, meaning hundreds of people could have been exposed to this one individual.

He himself had caught the virus off another person aboard his flight into the country at the end of January -- and so began the elevated measles threat.

It's not all bad, as most people received immunisation from the illness as infants -- but for those who haven't, or are concerned for their health -- here are a few tips on what to look out for and how to prevent getting sick.

Measles can be spread via coughing or sneezing and through contact with mucus.

It usually takes around 10 days for symptoms to appear.

Fever, a runny nose, a cough and sore red eyes initially and then a blotchy red rash beginning on the face which spreads in the coming days are common symptoms.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service recommends those who think they might be infected with the illness stay away from public areas and get in contact with medical help immediately.

The only way to prevent measles is to vaccinate with MMR vaccine.

A single dose given at 12-15 months will provide immunity for over 90 percent of the recipients, and a second dosage will then lift that to 99 percent.

The vaccine is free for children and adults not immune.

People born before 1969 may also be immune, but it is worth getting checked.

Those who travel outside of New Zealand, who are not immunised, pose a risk of bringing the infection home.

Worldwide there has been a resurgence in measles which started in Europe.

Anybody travelling abroad should make sure they are immunised prior to leaving. 

If you or somebody you know was at SkyCity or Sugar Tree Apartments and are concerned about measles get in touch with Healthline on 0800 611 116 or their own GP.