Limerick measles outbreak imported from Middle East

A measles outbreak in Limerick — where the number of confirmed cases has risen to 13 — was imported from the Middle East where a patient had travelled over the Christmas period.

A measles rash on a boy.

One child who contracted the disease was exposed to it in a Limerick hospital in January and was admitted to Temple St Children’s Hospital this month.

The Health Protection Surveilance Centre (HPSC) was made aware of this additional linked case last week.

The information is contained in an email from the HPSC to doctors on February 9 asking them to be on the alert “to the possibility of spread to other regions and the risk of transmission within health care settings”.

The email outlines how the index (initial) case brought measles in from the Middle East and that “onward transmission occurred in the Limerick area following importation”.

The email said a number of these cases presented to GPs, including the out-of-hours GP service, as well as emergency departments “while infectious and these venues have been the source of infection for some secondary cases”.

The HPSC said control measures, implemented in both Limerick and Dublin, include communications to the local GPs and hospitals, press releases and follow up of contacts “to advise and offer MMR vaccination”.

A HSE spokesperson said that the HSE held two additional vaccination clinics in Limerick over the last two Fridays in Southhill and Ballinacurra.

The HPSC requested that all clinicians “maintain high levels of vigilance for measles at this time”.

Transmission could occur following unrecognised exposure either in Ireland or overseas where measles outbreaks are occurring, the email said.

To prevent/minimise the risk of onward transmission in health care settings, doctors were advised to immediately isolate the patient and triage all suspect measles cases. National uptake of the MMR vaccine among junior infant schoolchildren during 2015/2016 was just over 90%. The highest increase was reported by Limerick — up 9.1%.

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