Health officials link measles outbreak to lack of vaccinations

Measles outbreak in New Zealand's Canterbury widens to 20

"People between the ages of 29 and 50 can expect to get a measles vaccine from their general practice in a week or two".

Immunisation Advisory Centre research director Helen Petousis-Harris said it was a huge undertaking for clinics to be assessing potential cases of measles, while vaccinating hundreds of people.

"We give a child its last dose of measles, mumps, rubella when they were 4 or 5 or 6 years old - before they enter kindergarten - and then they don't get it again, if ever, for the rest of their lives", he said.

Health officials in Jefferson County are trying to find people who may have come in contact with a person there who has caught measles.

All these can easily be prevented by getting vaccinated.

Canterbury District Health Board said there's now 25 confirmed cases of the highly infectious disease, with the number likely to rise.

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

Public Health is not providing any additional information about the two cases with one dose of MMR in order to protect the patients' privacy.

The incident is related to an out-of-state case of measles that was contracted by the recipient while traveling. Other states, including Missouri, have more stringent laws that allow for religious exemptions to vaccines.

In a statement, the Canterbury District of Health said "It can now be assumed that measles is circulating widely in our community". It might also lead to serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain).

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ramon Pink said measles was now "in widespread circulation" and those who weren't fully immune could be exposed to the risk of infection. The World Health Organization recently warned that anti-vaccination organizations are one of ten major global health threats this year.

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