Waikato measles cases a false alarm, Te Whatu Ora says

  • 01/04/2024
Little boy with with hand foot and mouth disease sitting on bed.
Photo credit: Getty Images

Further testing has found two reported measles cases in the Waikato were false alarms, Te Whatu Ora revealed on Monday.  

It comes after the health agency reported one confirmed case and one probable case of the infectious diseases in the area on Sunday.  

In a statement on Monday, Te Whatu Ora said further testing has confirmed the children do not have measles as first suspected.  

"The child had symptoms of measles and initial testing indicated a positive measles infection. The second probable case of measles has also returned a negative result," the statement reads.  

"Both children are recovering well and are continuing to be supported by healthcare services. "

National Public Health Service Regional Clinical Director Dr William Rainger acknowledged the family involved, saying they did the right thing by calling Healthline for advice as soon as they became concerned about their children's welfare. 

"Through this family's quick thinking and full cooperation from them and identified close contacts health services were able to manage the situation efficiently and reduce the risk for others," Dr Rainger said.

He said the updated test results mean Aotearoa has no known cases of measles in the community - which is a relief and good news. 

"With New Zealand being at high risk of a measles outbreak and our vaccination rates too low to prevent that from happening, our national and regional public health service teams must take any suspected case of measles very seriously," he said.

"They responded rapidly to initial testing results and took appropriate actions to ensure close contacts were identified and people in the local community were notified of their potential increase in risk."

Dr Rainger said even though the children don't have measles, it doesn't take away from the importance of health officials responding promptly to cases.  

"The fact that further testing indicates the child does not have measles after all, does not diminish the importance and the effectiveness of the actions undertaken by our public health officials over the past few days.  

"I thank our health teams for their dedication to ensure that New Zealanders are given the most current information as quickly as possible to see that our people, particularly our most vulnerable, remain protected."

Measles is a serious and highly contagious illness which can affect adults as well as children and babies. The illness spreads easily among people who are not immunised.

The best protection against measles is two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine - this provides lifelong protection in 99 percent of people.

Being immunised not only protects you, but also those around you from becoming seriously ill and from spreading the disease to others in the community.

The MMR vaccine is free for anyone aged 18 and under, and those over the age of 18 who are eligible for free healthcare in New Zealand.

If you or someone in your family has measles symptoms, stay at home and call Healthline immediately on 0800 611 116 so you can get free advice and public health support. Interpreter services are available.


  • The first symptoms of measles are similar to COVID-19, or the common cold.
  • The illness begins with fever, cough, runny nose, and sore red eyes (conjunctivitis).
  • A rash appears 2-4 days after the first symptoms, beginning on the face and gradually spreading down the body to the arms and legs. The rash lasts for up to one week.
  • Information for people concerned that they have been exposed to the disease is available on info.health.nz