Concern over rise in measles cases

Eleven cases notified to HSE
  • Deborah Condon

The HSE has expressed concern about a measles outbreak in the Dublin area, after five new cases were notified to it.

This brings the number of cases in the current outbreak to 11.

The HSE said it is particularly concerned about the risk of measles occurring in children who attended Temple Street Children's University Hospital on the following dates, as they may have been exposed to an infectious case:

-Wednesday, July 25, between 9.30am and 2pm in the outpatients department
-Thursday, July 26, between 7.15pm and midnight in the Emergency Department (ED)
-Friday, July 27, between 4.20pm and 7.30pm in the ED
-Monday, August 6, between 2.20pm and 10pm in the ED.

The risk of developing measles lasts for up to 21 days after contact with a case, therefore anyone attending the hospital on these dates remains at risk.

However, the HSE also warned that cases are ‘occurring in children and adults who are in contact with measles cases in the community in Dublin'.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a viral infection. It causes cold-like symptoms and a rash, but can also lead to more serious complications, such as breathing difficulties, pneumonia and acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

The measles rash is made up of flat red or brown blotches, which can flow into each other. It usually starts on the forehead and moves downward over the face, neck and body, and can last between four and seven days. Other symptoms of measles can include abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.

"Measles can be a serious illness and is highly infectious. The best protection is to be fully vaccinated with two doses of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine," commented Dr Helena Murray, a specialist in public health medicine.

The MMR vaccine is given twice to children - at 12 months of age and again at four-to-five years - as part of the routine immunisation programme.

The HSE advises parents/guardians to ensure their children get this vaccine at the appropriate times. Adults under the age of 40 who have not had measles, or have not received two doses of MMR, should contact their GP to get the vaccine.

Adults over the age of 40 can sometimes be at risk also. If they have never had measles or a measles vaccine, they should consider getting the MMR vaccine from their GP.

The HSE is also advising people that there are ongoing measles outbreaks in a number of European countries and worldwide, including popular holiday destinations, such as France, Italy and Greece.

So far this year, 31 measles-related deaths have occurred in EU countries.

The HSE is advising people travelling with babies aged six to 11 months to regions where measles has been reported, to have the infants vaccinated with MMR. A dose given before 12 months of age does not replace the dose that would normally be given at 12 months.

Meanwhile, if you think you have measles, the HSE advises the following:

-Do not go to work, school or crèche
-Stay at home and phone your GP. Tell the doctor or nurse that you think you might have measles
-Stop visitors coming to the house to prevent the spread of measles
-Pregnant women who have been exposed to measles should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

For more information on measles, click here


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