Published Date: 2011-08-19 22:03:53
Subject: PRO/EDR> Rubella - New Zealand: (NO)
Archive Number: 20110819.2526
RUBELLA - NEW ZEALAND: (NORTHLAND)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Fri 19 Aug 2011
Source: New Zealand Herald [edited]
Mystery surrounds how a Northland man caught rubella -- the disease
also known as German measles that can have disastrous consequences for
pregnant women. Northland medical officer of health Clair Mills said
the man was diagnosed with the rare disease after he visited a doctor
last week with a rash. The doctor decided to test for rubella and the
disease was confirmed by a laboratory. 3 people have been confirmed
with the illness in the past fortnight -- 2 in Auckland and the
Northland man. Only 30 confirmed cases have been recorded in New
Zealand in the past 11 years. Dr Mills said the man had no connection
with either of the 2 Auckland cases and he had not been in contact
with anyone who had been ill.
"It's a real mystery where he got it from," she said. "It's a pretty
rare disease and the main concern is around pregnant women because
rubella can do pretty nasty things to the fetus." Dr Mills said
awareness of the recent measles outbreak in Auckland might have made
doctors more alert to the need to test for rubella, which is normally
a fairly mild illness for those other than pregnant women.
"Sometimes the [rubella] rash isn't that significant and people don't
think it could be rubella so it's possible there may be more cases out
there," she said. Northland health workers were checking who the man
had been in contact with.
Although more than 100 people were confirmed with measles in the
Auckland outbreak, so far there has been only one case in Northland --
a 9 year old boy from Hokianga. Meanwhile, a 3-year-old Ruakaka girl
who was taken to hospital with suspected measles last week did not
have the disease, tests showed.
HealthMap Alerts via ProMED-mail
[Infection of the mother by rubella virus during pregnancy can be
serious. If the mother is infected within the 1st 20 weeks of
pregnancy, the child may be born with congenital rubella syndrome
(CRS), which entails a range of serious incurable illnesses.
Spontaneous abortion occurs in up to 20 per cent of cases. The virus
is transmitted via airborne droplets from the upper respiratory tract
of active cases. The disease has an incubation period of 2 to 3
In view of the expanding outbreak of measles virus infection in New
Zealand (see prior ProMED-mail post Measles update 2011 (27)
20110814.2464), it is clear that immunisation with the combined MMR
(mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccine has been far from complete.
Consequently it is hardly surprising that cases of rubella virus
infection have been detected. It is perhaps unusual that an adult male
was sufficiently ill to seek medical attention, unless perhaps there
was some underlying immune deficiency.
The HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of New Zealand can be seen
at http://healthmap.org/r/19y*. A map of Northland can be accessed
at http://www.northlandnz.com/about/map_of_northland/. - Mod.CP]