Media Release - 15/07/09
Canterbury District Health Board’s Community and Public Health Division has so far been able to contact 51 of the 54 children who may have been exposed to two preschoolers with measles.
The two children with measles, both aged under three, had attended one of two Canterbury preschools in the past week before becoming ill.
Community and Public Health staff were told the two children had measles yesterday and have since been contacting parents of those who may have been in contact with them.
Twenty seven of the children identified who had not been immunised against measles have received immunoglobulin – a blood product that provides a temporary boost to the body’s immune system. They will now be able to return to preschool. Children who have already received one of two Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccinations are also able to return to preschool.
Children who have not had either an MMR vaccination or immunoglobulin have been asked to stay away from preschool for the next two weeks, which is the incubation period for the disease.
Anyone who becomes unwell with measles is being advised to stay at home.
Medical Officer of Health Dr Cheryl Brunton said it was important children received the MMR vaccination as it offered the best protection against measles.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that can spread from person to person through the air by breathing, coughing and sneezing. It can cause a rash, high fever, a runny nose and sore, watery eyes. It can lead to pneumonia, ear infections, brain damage and can occasionally be fatal.
Children should receive two doses of the MMR vaccination, at 15 months and four years old. However, children who miss one of their vaccinations at the required time are able to get free “catch up” doses and should still present to their General Practice.
Across any population, the MMR vaccination is 95% effective in giving life long immunity, she said. “We are now seeing more cases of measles in Canterbury, which can be a serious disease for some people. The main message is that this disease is preventable if a child receives their MMR vaccination. We would urge parents whose children are not immunised to vaccinate them as soon as possible.”
These new cases bring the total number of measles cases in Canterbury since the beginning of June to 28.
Anyone who is concerned that they or a family member may have measles should telephone their GP. Symptoms of the disease include fever, red eyes (conjunctivitis), runny nose, spots on the inside of the mouth and a rash which appears on days three to seven of the illness.ENDS