South Canterbury still measles free but concern deepens

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An outbreak of measles in New Zealand's South Island kept spreading while health authorities order emergency supplies of vaccines.

Last week, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced the number of cases in 2019 (11) has already surpassed all measles cases in Texas in 2018 (9).

Canterbury's District Health Board said: "The number of confirmed likely to rise further over the coming days and weeks".

People who were born before 1969 or have had two shots of the MMR vaccinations are considered "fully protected" Pink said, but those aged between 29 and 50 who have only had one measles vaccination are not considered immune, and will require an additional shot.

"The resurgence of measles is of serious concern, with extended outbreaks occurring across regions, and particularly in countries that had achieved, or were close to achieving measles elimination", said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director General for Programmes at WHO. According to public health officials, measles is so infectious that if one person has it, 90 percent of everyone around might also be infected if they do not have the necessary vaccine. Still, residents are concerned about parents who choose not to get their children vaccinated.

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While on February 14, World Health Organization also warned that at least 922 children and young adults have died of measles in Madagascar since October, despite a huge emergency vaccination program.

Timely measles and rubella surveillance is critical to disease control.

"All of these cases followed a measles case imported from overseas. Severe complications of the measles include pneumonia, swelling of the brain (encephalitis), deafness and even death in some cases". In addition, there is a one to two month lag time in reporting.

"It is very important to vaccinate your children", said Public Health Nurse Clinic Coordinator, Jean Reynolds.

The highly contagious disease can spread through coughing and sneezing, and the virus can live for up to two hours in the air or on a surface.