Measles case found in Auckland, health authorities contacting patients potentially exposed

A case of measles has been discovered in Auckland, prompting health authorities to begin contacting patients who may have been exposed to the highly contagious disease.

On Thursday, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) warned that it had been notified of an individual with measles who attended the Clendon Medical Centre on three occasions between Feburary 19 and 21.

The individual was then assessed at the Middlemore Hospital emergency department on the evening of February 21.

The health authority is now contacting other patients who may have been exposed to the highly contagious disease at the medical centre or Middlemore Hospital.

"We will be contacting people who have been in the proximity of the case [and] asking anyone who has been in these two locations on these days to be aware of the symptoms. They should phone their doctor or call Healthline on 0800 611-116 for advice," said medical officer of health Dr Jay Harrower.

"If you feel unwell, please don't just turn up. It is important to call first, because measles is highly infectious and you could infect others in the waiting room," he said.

Dr Harrower said the infected individual caught the illness overseas, but was not infectious on the flight into New Zealand and had not been to any other public places.

It was also not connected to recent measles cases in Otago and Canterbury.

He advised anyone travelling overseas to be up to date with their vaccinations, especially infants aged between six and 15 months travelling to countries where there is a measles outbreak.

"Measles is a serious illness. One in 10 people with measles need hospital treatment and the most serious cases can result in deafness or swelling of the brain.

"Measles is one of the most infectious airborne diseases and a person is contagious before the rash appears. It is very easily transmitted from one person to another, possibly by being in a room where an infected person has been," Dr Harrower said.

Measles usually begins with a high fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes, followed by a rash starting behind the ears and spreading to the body a few days later.

But symptoms often won't show for 10-14 days after the person becomes infected.