Five new measles cases have been confirmed, meaning the total number of cases detected in Auckland has reached 60.
Craccum understands at least one of those 60 people was a student of the University of Auckland. The student – one of the first measle cases to be identified in the city – was enrolled in a number of first-year business papers. Shortly after his diagnosis, the university sent roughly 600 emails to students in COMLAW 101, ECON 151, and BUSINESS 101, warning them that a peer in their class had been carrying the airborne virus.
More than half the measle cases came from the west of Auckland. But that doesn’t mean those in other areas are safe. A spokesperson for the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) says, although the outbreak appears to center around West Auckland, people from all four corners of the city have been identified as carrying the illness. Scientists suspect the increased number of people affected by measles has been brought about by lowered immunisation rates – ARPHS says the concentration of cases in the west is likely just a reflection of low immunisation rates in the area, rather than anything else. “Measles spreads very easily through households if family members are not vaccinated,” a spokesperson told Stuff, “The early cases were in extended families in West Auckland, so the illness has been passed on for longer in this area, amongst groups more likely to catch it”.
It is estimated that 1 in 10 of those currently infected will need to be hospitalised. Additionally, roughly one in three of those sent to hospital are expected to develop serious complications.
The symptoms of measles include a fever, cough, runny nose and sore red eyes. After about three days, a rash appears on the face. This rash eventually moves down the body. The ARPHS says the only way to ensure you are protected from the outbreak is to become vaccinated. If you suspect you have caught the disease, visit the ARPHS measles page or the Ministry of Health website for more information. Alternatively, you can contact Healthline on 0800 611 116.