New Zealand measles outbreak shows no signs of slowing

In the 10 months since a measles outbreak began in New Zealand, approximately 300 people have been infected and 44 have been hospitalized.

Dr. Richard Hoskins, Auckland’s medical officer of health, does not expect that the outbreak will be as severe as the country’s 1997 epidemic, which infected more than 2,000 people, but said that there is little authorities can do to slow the spread of the disease, according to NZHerald.co.nz.

"It's a highly infectious virus, measles, it's really easy to catch if you are not immune," Dr. Hoskins said, NZHerald.co.nz reports. "We are at the stage now where what we are doing with quarantine and isolation is only going to have a small effect.

"It's people understanding the significance and making sure they are up to date with their immunization that's the important thing."

Hoskins reiterated that the measles is so contagious that it is possible to catch it just by being in the same room as someone who is infected.

The outbreak is thought to have started on an Emirates flight from Singapore, after which a passenger spread the disease through a school.

The measles eventually reached the Ranui Baptist church, where several people had decided not to get their children immunized. First, there were three cases, and then two weeks later, there were 14.

"I spoke to some parents who were absolutely convinced that they had made and were making the right decisions," Dr Hoskins said, NZHerald.co.nz reports.

The disease spread from there to Auckland’s inner suburbs. It is now mostly affecting young people in their 20s and 30s.