Measles in the Dublin and Meath areas - update

Published: 27th October 2017, 5.20 pm

Further to the press release issued about 2 confirmed cases of measles on 20th October 2017, Departments of Public Health have been notified of further cases showing spread within the community. To date, there are now 7 confirmed cases of measles affecting Dublin and Meath, with most of these cases in Dublin City.

The Measles Outbreak Control Team continues to investigate and advise on measures to control the further spread of this potentially serious illness. Alerts regarding measles have been sent to all Emergency Departments and General Practitioners (GPs) in the affected areas. Work is ongoing in identifying close contacts of cases who are being notified and advised by Public Health.

The best protection against measles is to be fully vaccinated with 2 doses of the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine.

Unimmunised pregnant women who have been exposed to measles should seek medical advice.

If you have symptoms suggestive of measles you should stay at home, not go to school or work and phone your GP and explain that you may have measles.

People with measles are infectious from four days before the rash appears. The HSE is aware that children with measles have attended various GP surgeries in Meath and Dublin and the Emergency Departments of some Dublin Paediatric Hospitals while they were infectious. As a result of this, there is an increased risk of exposure to measles among people who attended such healthcare services from Thursday 19th October 2017, onwards. As measles is now circulating in the community, it is important that everyone be aware of the possible risk of spread whenever groups of people gather.

People who have not been fully vaccinated with MMR vaccine or have not had measles in the past are at high risk of getting measles if exposed. Those most at risk of catching measles are children and adults who are not fully vaccinated with 2 doses of MMR vaccine such as babies aged 5- 12 months who are too young to be routinely vaccinated and children and adults with weakened immune systems

Dr John Cuddihy, Acting Assistant National Director for Health Protection said “measles can be a serious illness and is highly contagious. The best protection is to be fully vaccinated with 2 doses of MMR vaccine.”

More about measles

Measles is highly contagious and is spread easily. The time between exposure to measles and developing the rash is usually 14 days (range 7-21 days). People are infectious from 4 days before rash starts until 4 days after.

Measles symptoms include:

  • High fever 
  • Cough 
  • Runny nose 
  • Red eyes 
  • Red rash that starts on head and spread down the body- this normally starts a few days after onset of illness. The rash consists of flat red or brown blotches, which can flow into each other. It lasts about 4-7 days. 
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea and tummy pain may also happen.

Complications of measles

Measles can cause chest infections, fits, ear infections, swelling of the brain and brain damage.

Prevent measles with the MMR vaccine:

  • All children should get MMR at 12 months of age and the second dose at 4-5 years of age. 
  • If your child missed their scheduled MMR vaccine dose you should contact your GP to get the age-appropriate dose. 
  • If you are an adult born since 1978 and have not received 2 doses of MMR you should contact your GP to get the MMR vaccine.

Anyone who develops measles symptoms should:

  • 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 spreading the infection

Measles is a notifiable disease and GPs and hospital clinicians should immediately notify public health if they suspect someone has measles.

Read the Health Protection Surveillance Centre's measles factsheet.

Last updated on: 27 / 10 / 2017