Canterbury Health Laboratories has been designated the World Health Organization (WHO) National Measles and Rubella Laboratory (NMRL) for New Zealand since March 2005.

 

The NMRL's aim is to provide laboratory support for measles/rubella outbreak investigation and confirmation of measles/rubella cases using WHO recommended methods.

 

The specific objectives are to:

Provide laboratory support for measles/rubella surveillance and outbreak investigation
Provide laboratory confirmation of serologically identified measles/rubella cases
Collect samples from clinically suspected measles cases to identify measles/rubella virus strains
Participate in the WHO regional laboratory network for the Western Pacific region

 

Monitoring measles/rubella virus strains is an important tool in the identification of related outbreaks and helps with the World Health Organization’s commitment to eradicate the measles and rubella viruses globally.

Important:

Patients having the suspicion of being infected with measles or rubella virus should not visit their GP without prior telephone contact since both viruses are highly contagious and can easily be trasmitted in the waiting room.

 

 

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ALERT:

Measles outbreak Canterbury and Dunedin

 

Update: 19th of March 2019

An outbreak of measles started in Rangiora late January or middle of February 2019. The virus is a B3 genotype with similarity to a recent strain from the Philippines. So far 29 confirmed cases are reported in Canterbury (Rangiora, Christchurch) and two confirmed cases in Dunedin and the number is likely to rise further over the coming days and weeks. It can now be assumed that measles is circulating widely in our community. Several cases have been inpatients in Christchurch Hospital while infectious and some hospital staff is affected as well. Patients potentially exposed to confirmed cases are being identified by Infection Prevention and Control Service. A memo about screening and mangagement of suspected measles cases has been circulated to different departments of Christchurch and Ashburton hospitals. Staff known to have been exposed to confirmed or probable measles cases are continuing to be identified and contacted by Occupational Health if they are known to be non-immune or have an unknown immune status to request serological testing. Any potentially exposed staff members who are not known to be immune are asked to stand down from work though the potential infectious period or if they have symptoms of concern - typically 21 days from exposure date.

Measles is a serious, highly infectious, potentially life-threatening disease and Medical Officer of Health Dr Pink advises that people are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash until five days after the rash appears.  “People should stay in isolation from the time that they may have become infected until five days after the rash first appears.This means staying home from school or work and having no contact with unimmunised people. If others in your household are unimmunised, they need to stay in isolation too for fourteen days from their likely first exposure. Because measles is so infectious, it’s important people with symptoms don’t visit their GP or after hours clinics but phone their family doctor/general practice team for advice instead, to avoid infecting other people. People should only go to the hospital if it’s an emergency and should inform staff immediately if they think they have measles.”

Anyone with measles symptoms or who believes they may have been exposed, should contact their usual general practice team 24/7 for additional advice. Calls made after hours will be answered by a nurse who will advise you what to do and where to go if you need to be seen.

“If you have had two MMR vaccinations or were born before 1969, you are considered immune to measles. Everyone else may be vulnerable to infection,” Dr Pink says.

Those born overseas or who are unsure which vaccinations they might have had, should contact their general practice team for advice. The measles vaccine and the appointment to have it is free to all those who are eligible for funded healthcare in New Zealand.

 

 

MEASLES FAST FACTS​

 

Measles symptoms include:

  • A respiratory type of illness with dry cough, runny nose, headache
  • Temperature over 38.5 C and feeling very unwell
  • A red blotchy rash starts on day 4-5 of the illness usually on the face and moves to the chest and arms.

 

- Measles is highly contagious - if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.

 

- It can take up to 3 weeks for symptoms to appear. You should phone your family doctor/general practice team 24/7 for #carearoundtheclock if you are concerned. If it’s after-hours a nurse will answer the call and advise what to do and where to go if you need to be seen.

 

- Measles cannot be treated once you get it so the only way to protect yourself is to be fully vaccinated. People are only considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR vaccine and/or have had a measles illness previously and/or were born before 1969.

 

- Adults born before 1969 are considered immune to measles because the virus is so infectious and a measles vaccine was not available in New Zealand until 1969. Anyone born after 1969 who hasn’t received two doses of the MMR vaccine isn’t fully protected and is likely vulnerable to infection. People born overseas may also be vulnerable.

 

- If you think you have measles call your general practice team for advice. Do not visit your general practice, a pharmacy, or the hospital unless it is an emergency.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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