South Auckland Doctor says measles is a crisis in his community

South Auckland Doctor says measles is a crisis in his community


I think it is a crisis. I think that we’ve
talked about trying to achieve herd immunity but to achieve that you need to have at least
93 to 95 percent of the population immunised and we don’t have herd immunity. Immunisation rates in South Auckland are among
the lowest in the country resulting in staff struggling to contain the virus. Despite widespread media coverage, Dr Hulme
says there’s a serious problem around understanding exactly what Measles is. The patient I spoke to in the weekend who
had measles and who has had it confirmed as measles, said that she was 20 and she had
not heard anything about it on TV, Radio or in the papers and the only she became aware
of measles was through Facebook and she saw a picture of a baby that had measles and she
thought it only affected babies. She was still at work, she was one of 9. Of
those 9 people in that household, one of them went to a local high school and was still
going to school. We talked about the figures….70 percent
of measles cases are here in Counties Manukau district alone. Working here, being a doctor
here – this is your community. How does that make you feel? It’s pretty scary because on the day that
she came there was a market out in the carpark so to think that we’ve got people with measles
in the local market, it’s pretty scary. Dr. Hulme says the culture of the community
means people are actively social, regularly attending church and community events. It’s one of the factors that has caused the
district to see the biggest rise in measles cases in the country over the past 3 months. For this young girl who had measles, she came
in to see me – she had the rash. I explained to her that we need – I went through with
her her period of infectivity and we worked out when her infectious period started which
was 5 days before the rash started and explained to her and her partner that everyone she had
seen in the last 5 days has been potentially infected unless they’re immune. And the community’s high-deprivation means
many families are living in overcrowded homes – another serious concern for medical staff. So we go through who were the high-risk people
that she may have been in contact with. Also when we went through whoever the family members
were and that’s how I came up with the 9 family members who were in the same household. And
got their ages, who was at school and who was at work She’d been at her work place until she realised
that she had the measles she had been at work, thinking that she had the flu. What was her reaction? Did she realise the
scale of the scale of how important this was or how serious this was? I think it shocked her. I think it shocked
her so much that when I went to print off the letter for her employer and for her brother
that went to highschool before I could bring those letters back to her she’d left. So I
think that she was in shock. Dr Hulme says he was immediately worried when
the young woman, who was not vaccinated, left because hundreds of people were outside at
the local market and he had wanted to give her a face mask. Many clinics have isolation rooms but local
residents told First Up people are being asked to wait in their cars if they suspect they
have measles. Dr Hulme says staff are prepared to go out
to the carparks and see people in their cars. Not everyone has got a car so it’s not always
possible for someone to wait in the car, so if they’ve got a car and we go out to the
car but otherwise we see them in the isolation room but then that room can’t be used for
twenty minutes after the patient’s been seen. Dr Hulme says staff are now seeing measles
cases everyday. His message to the community is urgent and
he says local residents need to wake up and take measles seriously. It’s a serious condition. It is a public health
emergency and I’d encourage everyone get immunised and for themselves and their loved ones.

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