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Canterbury measles outbreak declared officially over

The measles outbreak in Canterbury has today been declared officially over, but people in the region are being asked to remain vigilant.

The announcement was made today by Canterbury District Health Board, after the outbreak started in the region three months ago - on February 16.

Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Ramon Pink says there has been two full incubation periods since the last case was infectious, but people should still remain vigilant.

"While it’s great we can declare Canterbury’s measles outbreak officially over, the reality is that measles is only a plane ride away," he said.

"While we’ve achieved a great result, we know that we must increase the immunity of our community to minimise the impact of another measles outbreak."

Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Lakes District health Board's are still dealing with their own outbreaks. Cases have also been reported in the Northland, Wellington and Waikato areas. All of the cases were from travellers bringing the disease from overseas.

"Measles is running rampant in several countries right now – the number of new cases worldwide rose by 300% during the first three months of 2019," Dr Pink said.

"Measles is an ever present threat and the only way we can stop measles from returning is to increase immunity in our community."

He encouraged people to get the MMR vaccine, which is free for people under 50 who haven’t had two doses.

"We are still encouraging people, especially children, teenagers and young adults who have never been vaccinated to get immunised. As well as vaccinating those who have never been vaccinated, those who have had one vaccine are being encouraged to get a second."

Dr Pink says he is proud of the Canterbury health system’s response to the outbreak.

"Over the last three months people from right across the Canterbury health system have worked tirelessly to put the lid on this outbreak.

"There’s been a huge response from primary care, labs, Christchurch Hospital as well as public health action in contact tracing and case management."

He also said Cantabrians responded extremely well themselves, and thanked them for taking this outbreak so seriously by adhering to our advice and getting vaccinated.

Measles, mumps and rubella vaccines sitting in a cooler. Source: Associated Press