Imported case of measles confirmed in New Zealand

Imported case of measles confirmed in New Zealand
Photo credit: Getty Images

An imported case of measles has been confirmed in New Zealand.

It is the first time a measles case has been confirmed in Aotearoa since the 2019 outbreak.

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand said the positive case is an adult living in Auckland. They were infected overseas, however did not become infectious until after their arrival in New Zealand. 

The confirmed case is now isolating at home and contact tracing is underway.

There are several public exposure events between Sunday February 5 and Saturday February 11 where measles could have been passed on to others, Te Whatu Ora said. These are:

  • Countdown, Quay Street: February 6 from 6:30pm to 7pm
  • Pharmacy At Quay Park, Auckland CBD: February 9 from 2pm to 3:30pm
  • Blue Haven Hotel, Tauranga: February 5 to 6, checked out at 1am on February 6
  • Lolo Authentic Turkish kitchen, Mount Maunganui, February 6 from 1pm to 2pm
  • Charter bus to That Weekend festival: February 5, 2:30pm
  • That Weekend festival: February 5 from 3:30pm to 11:30pm
  • Charter bus to Tauranga from That Weekend festival: February 5, 11pm to February 6, 12:30am
  • The General Cafe, Mt Maunganui: February 6 from 11am to 12:30pm.

"Measles is a very serious illness that spreads very quickly. It is much more contagious than COVID-19, particularly amongst people who aren't immune," said Te Whatu Ora spokesperson Dr Nick Chamberlain, director, National Public Health Service.

"We ask anyone present at these exposure events to stay alert to symptoms of measles and check if they are immune. You should ring Healthline on 0800 611 116 if you aren't immune and may have been exposed.

"Symptoms can include a fever, cough, runny nose and sore and watery 'pink' eyes. These are followed by a blotchy rash. If you catch measles you're infectious four days before and until four days after the rash appears.

"If you have symptoms and need to visit your GP or an after-hours clinic phone ahead first to limit the risk of the virus being spread to other people."

Please ensure that children and babies receive their normal vaccinations to protect them from measles, Te Whatu Ora said.

"It was inevitable that we would have further cases of measles in New Zealand and have been preparing for this for some time," said Dr Chamberlain.

"We are all aware of how infectious measles is from the last outbreak in Auckland and Northland. The most important thing that people can do to protect themselves is to ensure they and their Tamariki are immunised. Vaccination is safe and effective."

Te Whatu Ora recommends people check their immunity and get vaccinated if they were born after January 1, 1969, and haven't had two measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) doses, or have no record of getting these.

Te Whatu Ora said the infected person had been to other locations, but Public Health has either been able to identify those who may be contacts and inform them directly, or the risk has been assessed as very low. These places are therefore not being publicised to protect individual privacy, they said. Additional public exposure events may still be identified and will be publicised if necessary.

"Because measles is so infectious, it's important that infected people isolate, staying at home from school or work. People who are infectious will need to isolate from the time that they may have become infected until four days after the rash first appears," Te Whatu Ora said.

"The best protection against measles is to be vaccinated with two doses of the (MMR) vaccine. It is safe to have an extra MMR vaccination if you can't prove you have had two doses.

"The MMR vaccine is free. If you or anyone in your whānau born after 1969 has not had an MMR vaccine, or aren't sure, ask your GP, parent or caregiver."