A Northland student who was diagnosed with measles – after being in Wellington and flying to Auckland – could mean there is wider transmission of measles in the community.
Measles is one of the most dangerous and contagious diseases, according to Te Whatu Ora.
Spread through coughing and sneezing, it can cause a rash, ear infection, diarrhoea, seizures and brain inflammation in one in every 1000 cases, which can cause death or permanent brain damage.
On Thursday, dozens of students who attended the week-long Shakespeare Globe Theatre NZ National Shakespeare Schools Production at Scots College in Wellington were asked to isolate after one attendee was diagnosed with measles.
The student was also on Jetstar Flight JQ258 from Wellington to Auckland on Tuesday, October 3.
Other key locations of interest have also now been identified, including the Alan Gibbs Centre at Wellington College, Wellington Accident and Emergency Centre in Adelaide Road, and Wellington Zoo.
Quarantine is required for close contacts in some locations.
National Public Health Service interim clinical lead Dr William Rainger said anyone at the locations at the same time as the person with measles should get vaccinated if they are not immune or are unsure, and watch out for symptoms.
Northland health staff are working closely with the case and their household and Rainger thanked the whānua for being proactive in helping with contact tracing.
But as the case is currently unlinked to any recent case in New Zealand and does not have a history of recent international travel, it is possible there is wider transmission of measles in the community, said Northland public health specialist Dr Ankush Mittal.
“The source of infection is currently unknown, so it is critical that everyone be alert to the symptoms and get vaccinated if they haven’t already.”
Rainger said for most people, it is safe to get vaccinated again if they are unsure if they have had two doses of the MMR vaccine.
However, pregnant woman or those with a weakened immune system are encouraged to get advice from their healthcare provider.
Measles signs and symptoms
Measles usually takes 10 to 12 days from exposure to the first symptom.
The illness begins with fever, cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis (inflammation in the eyes), which lasts for two to four days.
It may be possible to see small white spots (Koplik spots) inside the mouth.
A rash appears two to four days after the first symptoms, beginning at the hairline and gradually spreading down the body to the arms and legs. The rash lasts for up to one week.
Measles exposure events
Roxy Cinema and Café in Miriamar, on Saturday, September 30 from 9.30am to 12.30pm, including the 10.45am screening of Paw Patrol in Cinema 1. Close contacts should quarantine until the end of October 14.
After Hours Pharmacy in Adelaide Rd, Newtown, on Sunday, October 1 from 9pm to 10pm. Close contacts should quarantine from October 8 to the end of October 15.
Wellington Zoo on Sunday, October 1 from 9.15am to 11pm. General visitors are considered causal contacts.
Zambrero Restaurant, Courtenay Place, Te Aro, on Sunday, October 1 from 9.55pm to 11pm. Close contacts should quarantine from October 8 to the end of October 15.
Wellington Metlink bus no 1 – Adelaide Rd to Courtenay Pl – on Sunday, October 1 at 9.55pm. Close contacts should quarantine from October 8 to the end of October 15.
Whitby’s Restaurant + Bar, James Cook Hotel, The Terrace on Monday, October 2 from 5.30pm to 7pm. Close contacts should quarantine from October 9 to the end of October 16.
Wellington Domestic Airport on Tuesday, October 3, from 10.30am to 1pm. Casual contacts.
Jetstar flight JQ258 Wellington to Auckland on Tuesday, October 3 from 1.15pm to 2.15pm. Passengers in rows 21 – 30 are close contacts and passengers in rows 1 – 20 are casual contacts.
Auckland Domestic Airport, including the Jetstar baggage carousel, on Tuesday, October 3, 2.15pm to 4pm. Casual contacts.