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Urgent Message to Primary Care - Measles Case Identified - Contact Tracing Underway

A measles case has been confirmed in New Zealand for the first time since the 2019 outbreak. The individual is an adult living in Auckland, but they were infected overseas. They became infectious after their arrival in New Zealand. The confirmed case is now isolating at home and contact tracing is underway. 

A media release has been issued to help identify any members of the public who may've been exposed to measles at a number of locations. This is available online here: Imported measles case confirmed in New Zealand | Ministry of Health NZ

It is important to consider measles for anyone who has been in attendance at the listed exposure events in the media release, identify vaccine status and promote vaccine uptake. Should a patient present and advise they are a contact of a measles case, please proactively initiate any required vaccinations and public health actions. Patients who were exposed to the case at high-risk sites may be required to remain at home in self-quarantine unless proven to be immune. High risk exposure events will be posted on the Te Whatu Ora and Ministry of Health websites. Contacts may also contact Whakarongorau/Healthline for further information.

This message alerts you in case you experience additional demand for assessment, management, and vaccinations from the community. You may also want to proactively contact any patients due for their immunisation.

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This acts as another timely reminder to clinicians to be alert for the signs and symptoms of measles, particularly in unvaccinated or immunosuppressed people who have recently returned from overseas. Measles is characterised by the presence of all the following:

  • Generalised maculopapular rash, starting on the head and neck then spreading down and out and fading.
  • Fever >38ºC (if measured) present at the same time as the rash.
  • One or more of cough, coryza, conjunctivitis or Koplik spots present at the same time as the rash.

Please refer to your local Health Pathways for more information about measles

The best protection against measles is the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The MMR vaccination is free for people up to age 32 or anyone born after 1968 that hasn't had two doses.
The first dose of MMR vaccine is due at 12 months of age. Vaccination is vital due to the risk of severe disease in this age group. Ensure tamariki are recalled before their first birthday so this dose can be delivered on time.
Is your patient population up to date with both doses of MMR? Please be aware that many children have missed out on their scheduled MMR during the last 3 years due to lockdowns.
There are also a number of people aged 17-32 years who have missed out on 2 doses of MMR.
Please offer opportunistic vaccination to this cohort.
MMR is contraindicated in pregnancy because it is a live vaccine but can be given immediately post-partum.
Your local public health team will advise regarding vaccination of any close contacts. The MMR vaccine, if given within 72 hours of exposure to measles virus, may provide protection to the unimmunised and help limit the spread of measles.
Please call IMAC with any questions regarding vaccination of your patient, particularly if the person is immunocompromised.

Notify all suspected cases of measles to your local Medical Officer of Health

As measles is highly infectious, an urgent public health response is required to control any potential outbreak. Clinicians are reminded to notify all suspected measles cases immediately to the local Medical Officer of Health. Do not wait for laboratory confirmation before notifying. 

More information

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