HSE warns of a measles outbreak

The HSE has warned of a measles outbreak in various parts of the country and which is particularly affecting those who had not received the MMR vaccine.

To date 19 measles cases have been linked to the outbreak, of which the HSE said 13 are confirmed and six are probable. The fear is that it could be passed on to vulnerable people such as young babies and those with a weakened immune system.

A number of the infected people were identified as having been in Kerry, Dublin and Limerick. “All cases have occurred in individuals under 30 years of age, with most cases occurring in the 15-19 year age group,” the HSE said in a statement. “It is believed that the source of infection most likely came from another European country where measles outbreaks are occurring.”

Outbreak control teams have been convened in HSE East, South and Midwest.

Dr Kevin Kelleher, consultant in public health, said the HSE wanted to raise public awareness around the symptoms of the condition to ensure that anyone with concerns addresses them immediately in order to receive a rapid diagnosis.

Symptoms include high fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and a red rash that starts on the head and spreads down the body.

Dr Kelleher said measles is highly infectious, and if cases are isolated early, the risk of transmission to vulnerable individuals decreases. “The time between exposure to the virus and developing measles rash is normally 14 days (range 7-21 days). People are infectious from four days before rash starts until four days after.”

People who are fully vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine are normally protected. Those most at risk are those who have not been fully vaccinated, babies younger than 12 months so too young to be vaccinated, and those with weakened immune systems if exposed.

The HSE has identified a number of areas where individuals confirmed with measles have been while infectious in the past month. Dublin in the last week in April; Dingle in Kerry over the May Bank holiday weekend; Tralee in Kerry in mid-April-May; West Limerick in early to mid-May; Dublin Airport on the evening of May 16; Ryanair flight FR7313 from Zadar to Dublin on May 16; Dublin Coach on the Dublin to Tralee route on May 16 at 7.30pm and May 18 in the early morning.


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