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Canterbury and Southern DHB are alerting the general public that they may have been exposed to measles.

A person has been confirmed as having measles and was infectious while travelling across multiple locations in the South and North Islands between Saturday 28 December 2019 and Monday 6 January 2020.

The person was diagnosed in Christchurch and Canterbury DHB’s Community and Public Health team has been working to identify all close contacts of this person, determining their immunisation status and offering advice regarding what further action they should take.

Anyone who was in the following locations at the times listed should be aware that they may have been exposed and at risk of developing measles, unless they are sure they’ve had two MMR vaccinations or are over 50 years of age. If they are not in either of those two groups, they should isolate themselves at home until the dates listed (inclusive):

28 December 2019 - Interislander Ferry Wellington to Picton, 8.45am – 12.00pm. Remain isolated until 11 January.

30 December 2019 to 3 January 2020 - Whare Flat Folk Music Festival. Remain isolated until 17 January.

30 December 2019 - Emergency Department at Dunedin Hospital between 8.30pm and 1.00am. Remain isolated until 13 January.

6 January 2020 - Interislander Ferry Picton to Wellington, 2.30pm and 5.45pm. Remain isolated until 20 January.

Dr Susan Jack, Southern Medical Officer of Health, says immunisation is the best protection against measles. This is especially important for children who haven’t yet had their MMR vaccinations scheduled at 15 months and 4 years. These children are currently top priority for vaccination.

“If you are unwell and think it might be measles, stay at home and telephone your General Practice team or Healthline. Please don’t visit your GP team, other health provider or a hospital in person as this will spread the illness,” says Dr Jack. 

People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR vaccine, have already had measles previously, or were born before 1969 – people born before this time will have been exposed to measles and most will therefore have had it.

Dr Jack advises that “people are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash until four days after the rash appears, so it is possible to transmit the infection before you feel unwell. People who have been exposed and who are not immune should remain isolated from 7 days after their first exposure to 14 days after their last exposure.”