Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Measles outbreak in New Zealand's Canterbury widens to 20

Measles outbreak in New Zealand's Canterbury widens to 20

It can now be assumed that measles is circulating widely in our community.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause complications including blindness and brain swelling and increase susceptibility to other diseases. South Central and Western Reserve local schools had the most children with up-to-date MMR vaccinations, while Norwalk city and Catholic schools had the lowest throughout the county, with less than 80 percent being vaccinated upon entering kindergarten. People are considered infectious from 5 days before, until 5 days after, the rash first appears.

"Unimmunised people who come within 2 metres of an infectious person, however briefly, have a 90 per cent chance of contracting measles", the board said.

"To maintain herd immunity, communities have to vaccinate enough residents to protect the small number of people who can not receive a vaccination for medical reasons", said Ashley Franks, Erie County Health Department epidemiologist.

Data from 2018 shows that 10% of cases are between 6 and 15 years of age, whereas 15% are between 16 and 30 years of age.

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Clinics in the central-eastern region ran out of vaccines after the outbreak started in late February, with an additional 18,000 MMR vaccines expected to be brought in by Wednesday.

"Given their higher risk, our focus over the short term is to provide MMR immunisations to those under 29 years who are not fully vaccinated", Pink said.

Pharmacists can also immunize adults and children over five years old.

Babies whose mother is immune will have some protection if they are now being breastfed.

Children too young to be vaccinated or who have only had one dose of vaccine are more likely to get infected. "It's just a matter of where it is and that's why we say to call ahead just to make sure that where you want to go has it available". Further supplies of the vaccine will follow, Clark said in a statement. The county health director says the department has identified everyone in the small group the infected person has come in contact with recently and is interviewing them about possible symptoms.

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