Doctors optimistic measles outbreak has peaked and may now be on the decline

There have been 1742 confirmed measles cases across the country.
There have been 1742 confirmed measles cases across the country. Photo credit: Getty

Measles may have reached a turning point but public health officials say there's no room for complacency.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service, Medical Officer of Health, Dr William Rainger is optimistic the outbreak has peaked and may now be on the decline.

"In the last three weeks, every week we've seen fewer numbers of confirmed cases and we've certainly seen fewer hospitalisations, so that gives us ongoing optimism that the outbreak in Auckland has reached its peak and may now be declining in an ongoing way.  We do need to monitor that on a week by week basis, the incubation period is 14 days," says Dr Rainger.

There have been 1742 confirmed cases across the country since the start of the year, 1416 in Auckland, but the number of new cases is falling.

"I think we can have a degree of comfort in saying that the large amount of uptake of vaccination over recent months will have had a very positive affect," says Dr Rainger, "Now, how long the tail lasts, that's a bit of an unknown."

GP and member of the metro-Auckland incident Management Team, Dr John Cameron, says we're not out of the woods yet.

"We still must keep vaccinating.  This is not a time to say, it's going away, let's sit back and do nothing.  This is a time when we really need to work out, within those priority groups for a start, how we get our population protected against this really serious, horrible, viral disease," says Dr Cameron.

A new delivery of 107,520 MMR vaccines is currently being distributed.  Children remain the priority but they could widen the scope next week.

The concern is that Aucklanders travelling during the school holidays may have spread the disease to other parts of the country.  The incubation period is around 14 days so health officials will be keeping a close eye on any new cases over the next couple of weeks.



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