Measles is a viral disease that can cause serious illness. It can lead to pneumonia, deafness, brain infection and sometimes even death, and can easily spread between people by breathing, sneezing, or coughing.

It is one of the most contagious illnesses. You can catch it simply by being in a room within two hours after someone with measles has been in the same room.

Some of the common symptoms of measles are: red blotching rash, fever or cold-like symptoms, sore watery pink eyes, cough, runny nose.

The rash normally starts to appear about 3-7 days after the other symptoms. It starts on the face and can spread to the rest of your body.

If you have any symptoms of measles, you should urgently seek medical advice. Call your family doctor, nurse, vaccinator or pharmacist, or Healthline for free on 0800 611 116.

It’s important you do not visit a hospital or medical centre without calling first, as you may risk passing it on to other people.

 People in the following groups can be at greater risk of serious illness from measles:

  • Some people with a chronic illness or weak immune system.
  • Children under 5 who have not had at least 1 dose of the MMR vaccine.
  • Babies younger than 12 months who are too young to get the first dose.
  • Older people and those who are pregnant.

If you catch measles, you will need to stay home and isolate. It takes around 7-10 days to fully recover but you can leave your home 4 days after getting the rash if a health professional advises you it’s safe to do so. Around 1 in 10 people may need to go to hospital because of more serious measles symptoms.

You are unlikely to catch measles if you:

  • have had measles before,
  • have had 2 doses of the vaccine, and the 2nd dose was more than a month ago,
  • have had a blood test showing you are immune.

If you or your baby under 12 months have been near someone with measles and you haven’t been vaccinated, you should contact your doctor, nurse, vaccinator or pharmacist. You may be able to receive an injection to prevent you from getting measles.

You will also need to isolate for around 14 days. Your doctor, nurse, vaccinator or pharmacist can explain when you need to isolate and for how long.

If you are immune, you won’t need to stay home and isolate if you come into contact with someone who has measles. If you’re unsure if you’re immune or want to check your vaccinations status from your home country, please talk to your healthcare provider.

For any other information, talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. You can also call Healthline for free on 0800 611 116 or visit more information.

Health and wellbeing are some of the most important things for our ethnic communities. In 2022, we ran a series of health events across the country, and you told us that you wanted to learn more about health services available in Aotearoa New Zealand.

So, we partnered with Te Whatu Ora to create a series of videos to help explain what measles is, the symptoms of the virus, and how to protect yourself.

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