The University of Auckland has confirmed more students have contracted measles.
Students in BIOSCI 101, BIOSCI 106, CHEM 110, COMPSCI 110, MEDSCI 142, MEDSCI 206 and PHYSICS 160 have been diagnosed with the potentially life-threatening illness. Students and staff enrolled in these classes are encouraged to be extra-vigilant for signs they have contracted the disease. According to Medical Officer of Health Dr William Rainger, these include having “a fever, runny nose or cough, or sore red eyes, or a rash that appears on the face and then moves down the body”.
This isn’t the first time a University of Auckland student has been diagnosed with the disease. Earlier this year, a similar warning was issued when a student enrolled in COMLAW 101, ECON 151 and BUSINESS 101 was found to have contracted measles. His case was only the fourth case to have been diagnosed in the Auckland area.
Since then, the number of patients affected by the disease has increased drastically. There have been more than 500 confirmed cases since March, with around 410 of these being diagnosed in Auckland. Last week alone, 70 Auckland patients were found to have contracted the disease, with 27 of those patients having been diagnosed on the same day. Roughly 38% of all diagnosed with measles have required hospital treatment.
This year’s outbreak has disproportionately affected those aged 20 to 29. It is believed this is because this is the group less likely to be immunised – an “immunity gap” (the result of having no national immunisation register until 2006) is believed to have left around half a million Kiwis in this age range without any form of vaccination.
Medical Officer of Health Dr William Rainger and the University of Auckland encourage anyone who hasn’t already been vaccinated against measles to do so. The vaccine drastically lowers the chances of contracting measles. However, it is important to note that vaccination is not guaranteed to prevent you from contracting the disease – around 200 of the 500 patients diagnosed this year had been vaccinated at least once. For this reason, anyone – whether vaccinated or unvaccinated – should seek medical advice if they believe they are showing symptoms of the disease.