Jefferson County reporting first case of measles

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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.

Now there are 25 confirmed cases, and 100,000 vaccines are expected to hit Canterbury shortly.

"It can now be assumed that measles is circulating widely in our community", the DHB said in a statement.

"Unimmunized people who come within two meters of an infectious person, however briefly, have a 90 percent chance of contracting measles", the board said.

Measles cases are on the rise globally, including in wealthy nations such as the United States and Germany, where some parents shun life-saving vaccines due to false theories suggesting links between childhood immunizations and autism.

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Health officials say if you got the measles vaccine when you were a child it should be effective for your whole life unless you are exposed to those who have measles and then you may need a booster shot.

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For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die.

Schroeder said treatment during measles outbreaks normally focused on increasing childhood vaccinations but a third of the current cases were in the 29-50 age group.

According to the reports, the first case was reported in Canterbury in February.

Many cases that have been found involve the kids which are under 10 years old, and almost 15 cases are found where the people are within the age group of 11 to 18 years, and the rest are found in adults till the age of 39 years. In addition, there is a one to two month lag time in reporting.

Timaru's Parkside Medical Centre general practitioner Dr Mary McSherry said many people called the centre's nurses on Monday voicing concerns about the spread of measles.

Measles is caused by a virus that can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

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