Date: Sat 9 Dec 2017
Source: NewsHub [edited]
A mumps outbreak in Tonga could have started in Auckland and the Government should take responsibility, 2 Opposition MPs say. Shane Reti and Alfred Ngaro believe Tongan and other Pacific Island rugby league players at the recent World Cup could have been exposed to mumps while they were in Auckland. They're upset because when Health Minister David Clark was asked about it, he said individual countries were responsible for their own immunisation regimes. "There are currently 1600 recorded cases in Tonga," Mr Reti and Mr Ngaro said in a joint statement. "Is the minister saying that the complications of this disease such as deafness, sterility and meningitis don't matter in Pacific Island people?"
The MPs thinks the Government should offer advice to Tonga and help with its vaccination programme. "The minister is displaying an appalling lack of responsibility," they said. Dr Clark told Newshub mumps outbreaks in the Pacific are not uncommon. "The latest outbreak in Tonga began in March and peaked in June  - before the Rugby League World Cup. The suggestion from the 2 National MPs that Tongan Rugby league players that contracted mumps in New Zealand have somehow caused the outbreak in Tonga does not make sense and is irresponsible at best."
He said the Ministry of Health isn't aware of any requests for assistance from Tonga, which would actually come through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. "Anyone who needs treatment while in New Zealand will receive it, but individual countries are responsible for their own vaccination programmes."
[Before sports teams travel to countries where mumps outbreaks are occurring, MMR vaccination status of each player should be checked. The coaches should advise unvaccinated players to immediately go to clinics that conduct immunizatons. Because measles and mumps are highly infectious, sports teams should take extra precautions to protect their players from disease even in country. They can become infected at home and when travelling, and can spread infection to other non-immunized individuals.
A Healthmap/ProMED of Tonga can be seen at