5th April 2019
The Health Service Executive has confirmed an outbreak of measles in Dublin and is advising that people should make sure they have had the MMR vaccine to protect themselves from measles. This is particularly important for children and young adults (under forty).
There have been eighteen cases in Dublin since the start of February 2019. Recent cases have involved young adults working in the city centre. Travel to Europe has been identified as a risk with some cases developing measles after trips to France, Poland, the Netherlands and Lithuania.
There are on-going outbreaks of measles in multiple countries in the European region including France, Italy, Greece, Romania and the Ukraine and worldwide.
Dr Ruth McDermott, Public Health Specialist said: “Measles is a serious illness and is highly infectious. The best protection is to be vaccinated with MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine”.
People planning to travel abroad should make sure they are protected from measles. Those who have not been vaccinated with MMR vaccine or have not had measles in the past are at risk of measles. If unsure whether they had the vaccine they should speak to their GP about getting the MMR vaccine before travelling. Children age 6 to 11 months should have an early MMR prior to travel.
Measles symptoms include fever, red rash, red eyes, cough and runny nose. The rash usually starts a few days after onset of illness. It typically starts on the head and spreads down the body. There is a risk of developing measles for up to 21 days after contact with a case of measles.
If you think you may have measles, stay at home and phone your GP for advice.
People who are sick should not attend settings such as crèche, school, work, social or religious gatherings (both indoor and outdoor) until they have recovered from illness.
We would ask that people who intend to travel to and from these measles affected areas be aware of the risk of being infected. Even for those not travelling the risk of further spread within Dublin and to other parts of the country is possible and vigilance is recommended.
Measles is a very serious disease with a 1 in 1000 risk of death.
How to control the spread of measles
Vaccination with measles containing vaccine (MMR):
1. All children should get the MMR vaccine when they are aged 12 months. If any child aged over 12 months has missed this vaccine they should get it now from their GP.
2. All children should get a second dose of MMR vaccine when they are 4-5 years old in Junior Infants at school. If any child in Senior Infants or older has missed this vaccine they should get it now from their GP.
3. Adults under 40 years who have not had measles or have not received 2 doses of MMR vaccine should contact their GP to get the MMR vaccine.
If you think you may have measles:
1. Do not go to work, school or crèche or any congregate setting such as shopping centre/cinema/indoor or outdoor public events etc.
2. Stay at home and phone your GP. Tell the doctor or nurse that you think you might have measles.
3. Stop visitors coming to the house to prevent the spread of measles.
4. Pregnant women who have been exposed to measles should seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Risk of measles from international travel
There are on-going outbreaks of measles in multiple countries in the European region including France, Italy, Greece, Romania and the Ukraine and worldwide. Most people who get measles on holiday do not know they were exposed until they develop the illness. Unrecognised exposures to measles have occurred at airports, on planes, at concerts, in shops and health care settings.
Advice for people travelling abroad
Vaccination remains the most effective protection against infection. Children aged 6-11 months of age, travelling to other countries and regions where measles outbreaks are reported, are recommended MMR vaccine. This vaccine is in addition to the routine childhood vaccination schedule of two MMRs. A dose given before 12 months of age does not replace the dose that would normally be given at 12 months of age.
Older children should be age appropriately vaccinated. Children who have missed their recommended doses should get the MMR vaccine from their GP.
Adults may be at risk of measles, particularly those under 40 years of age who have never had measles or two doses of a measles vaccine.
Risk of measles within Ireland
Since the beginning of 2019 a number of separate measles outbreaks have been reported in the country (Donegal and most recently the Dublin region). As people travel to and from these measles affected areas to other parts of the country regularly the risk of further spread to other parts of the country is possible and vigilance is recommended.
In total 30 cases have been identified in Ireland since the start of the year with 14 further possible cases under investigation. There were 37 confirmed cases during the same period in 2018.
More information 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 four days before rash starts until four days after.
Complications of measles
Measles can cause chest infections, fits (seizures), ear infections, swelling of the brain and/or damage to the brain.
Measles is a notifiable disease and GPs and hospital clinicians should immediately notify Public Health if they suspect someone has measles.
For more information please see the following websites:
Last updated on: 05 / 04 / 2019