A measles outbreak in Limerick continues to grow, with 25 cases now identified.
The HSE said the continued spread of infection is due to failure to vaccinate. To achieve “herd immunity”, up to 95% of the population must be vaccinated.
However, Limerick city and county have been consistently below the target for the past number of years.
One measles case is in Co Clare but is linked to the Limerick outbreak.
Almost two-thirds of cases are aged between 15 and 40 years “demonstrating that measles is not just an illness of childhood”, the HSE said.
Half of those affected have been hospitalised.
The outbreak, which began in January, was imported by a patient who had travelled to the Middle East over Christmas.
The HSE describes measles as “a serious public health issue...so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected”.
It is spread easily through coughing and sneezing and can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia and inflammation of the brain and can, in rare cases, lead to a fatal disease of the brain which develops years after the infection. The mortality rate from measles infection is 1-2 per 1,000 cases.
The HSE said the only effective protection against measles is two doses of the MMR vaccine.
Adults are advised to check if they have had two doses of MMR and, if not, visit their GP to get immunised as soon as possible.
The same advice applies to couples under the age of 40 who may be planning a family. Once a woman is pregnant, she is unable to get the MMR vaccine until after the baby arrives.
Measles increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Adults under 40 planning to travel abroad are also advised to check if they are immunised,
The HSE said patients with symptoms of measles should avoid presenting to the emergency department where possible.
An Outbreak Control Team made up of representatives from the HSE is involved in managing the outbreak in an effort to prevent further spread.
For more on measles see: hpsc.ie/a-z/vaccinepreventable/measles/
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