ESR's identification of measles strains in New Zealand highlights the on-going risk of new outbreaks in New Zealand.
ESR Public Health Physician Jill Sherwood says there have been at least 16 different importations so far this year.
Of those importations, nine have led to outbreaks ranging from three to at least 200 linked cases, with the two largest outbreaks ongoing.
There have now been 1131 confirmed cases of measles notified across New Zealand. 944 of these confirmed cases are in the Auckland region..
Dr Sherwood says some of the cases imported into New Zealand did not result in additional cases, whereas others have resulted in serious outbreaks.
“It depends on whether a newly arrived infectious person comes in contact with immune or non-immune people.”
Measles strains have been imported into New Zealand from a range of countries including Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Afghanistan, China, Japan and the UK.
“It is a mistake to think that the disease is only coming from a few countries in the world. Due to the increasing numbers in countries formerly thought to be measles-free, any overseas travel is potentially risky.”
Dr Sherwood says having high vaccination coverage means it is less likely that imported cases will be exposed to non-immune people who can become infected.
ESR’s weekly surveillance for the week ending 6 September(external link) shows hospitalisations for measles nationwide is now 373.
In the last week new cases have been confirmed for Northland, Waitemata, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, MidCentral, Taranaki and Southern DHBs.
Are you and your children protected from measles ? Check here(external link).
The currently-available vaccination is the best protection people can have against measles. They need to have two MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations, as part of the National Immunisation Schedule (age 15 months or from 12 months for those living in or travelling to the Auckland region, and 4 years). Anyone born in or after 1969 who has not had two documented doses of vaccine can be vaccinated for free if their GP has sufficient supplies.
Anyone who suspects they may have measles should avoid contact with other people, especially those who are not fully immunised, and should phone their GP or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice. It is important to call first because measles is highly infectious, and people with measles can infect others in the waiting room.