Measles in Canterbury now 'in widespread circulation' as infections rise to 25

Faith Castro
March 14, 2019

A major vaccination drive will get underway in the South Island of New Zealand as health authorities respond to the latest measles outbreak which was confirmed recently and is expected to spread across the South Island's Canterbury region.

Authorities on Monday confirmed there had been 25 cases of the disease in the Canterbury region, which includes the country's third-largest city, Christchurch.

"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.

Measles cases are rising globally, including in wealthy nations such as the United States and Germany, where some parents shun the vaccines mostly for philosophical or religious reasons, or concerns, debunked by medical science, that the vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) could cause autism.

Priority groups for the vaccine were children and young adults (5 to 28 years old) who were not immunised or had only received one MMR dose to date, children 12 months to 5 years who have never received any doses of MMR, and adults aged 29-50 years as this group only received one dose of measles vaccine.

The number of recorded measles infections globally doubled to 229,000 past year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in February.

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More potential cases are now being investigated.

One child with measles walking through a school will pretty much infect every other susceptible person in that school.

"All of these cases followed a measles case imported from overseas".

Another one or two out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with medical treatment. She says two doses of the vaccine provides 97 percent immunity to the disease.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing, Texas DSHS says.

Still, Dr. Steven Shapiro, chairman of pediatrics at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health, reiterated that no vaccine offers complete protection, and the effectiveness does lessen over time.

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