Notifying suspected measles to Toi Te Ora Public Health / Medical Officer of Health

If you suspect a case of measles, please notify the Medical Officer of Health promptly on 07 579 8000 (ask for the Medical Officer of Health). Alternatively, you can phone 0800 221 555 to speak to other communicable disease staff (select option 3 during business hours, or option 5 after hours).

Do not wait for laboratory results before notifying.

Our current rates of immunisation coverage are below the 95% required to prevent the spread of measles, so urgent public health follow up of suspected or confirmed cases is important.

IgG testing

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Toi Te Ora Public Health occasionally arranges IgG testing if an individual is a contact of a case of measles and is unable to confirm their vaccination status. Such a person will be put into quarantine. However, they may be offered IgG testing, as if they return a positive IgG result they can be released from quarantine.

More specific advice about measles serology testing for diagnostic purposes is available on the Pathlab website.

Measles case numbers - national and international

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ESR produces measles reports which include information on the epidemiology of measles cases reported in New Zealand. Measles is a notifiable disease in New Zealand and these reports use data available from EpiSurv, the national notifiable disease database.

Measles outbreak regions around the world can be viewed here.

Measles overview

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Key points:

  • Measles occurs in all ages. 

  • The characteristic maculo-papular rash follows first prodromal symptoms by 2-3 days. 

  • Patients are infectious 5 days before the onset of the rash until 5 days after onset of the rash. 

  • Measles is highly contagious, spreading via the air or surface droplets. 

  • A single case is defined as an outbreak requiring urgent public health intervention – therefore urgent lab testing for confirmation of a suspected case is critical. 


Clinical events



10-12 days Incubation period
(can be up to 21 days)



2-4 days fever, runny nose, cough, conjunctivitis, koplik's spots


Up to 1 week spreading maculo-papular rash
(ongoing fever and symptoms as above but
most unwell first 2 days of rash)





Prodrome onset
(i.e up to 5 days before onset of rash)



5 days after onset of rash.

 Apart from the clinical picture, other factors which should raise clinical suspicion include:

  • Possible Contact / Exposure with known or possible case eg:  school, pre-school, playmates, friends, relatives with above symptoms.

  • Increased Community Risk – if individuals were born between 1969 and 1975, they may not have a good measles immunity.

  • Susceptible Individuals – those who do not have documented immunity to measles or who have not received two doses of MMR vaccine or, for those aged < 4 yrs, have not received one dose after 12 months of age. 

  • Immunocompromised Individuals – should be considered for immunoglobulin.  

Clinical documents

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On-call Medical Officer of Health - 07 579 8000 (Tauranga Hospital)