Measles breaks out in north Dublin, HSE warn for people to be vigilant

by Sylvia Pownall

The Health Service Executive has confirmed an outbreak of measles in north Dublin and is advising parents to be vigilant.

HSE chiefs are describing it as a “community outbreak” of measles affecting both adults and children, with five cases reported since the start of February.

Anyone who thinks they may have the disease – the symptoms of which include fever, a red rash, red eyes and a cough – is advised to stay at home and contact their GP.

Public health specialist Dr Ruth McDermott warned: “Measles can be a serious illness and is highly-infectious. The best protection is to be vaccinated with the MMR [measles, mumps and rubella] vaccine.”

People who are infected are being asked to avoid their local school, creche, or public spaces as the disease is airborne and, in extreme cases, can prove fatal.

Measles can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person or through the air when the carrier coughs or sneezes.

It can have serious complications such as pneumonia, seizures and inflammation of the brain and two people out of every 1,000 infected with measles will die.

The Fingal outbreak follows a spike in Donegal where there were seven cases confirmed last month.

In January, a global charity issued a warning as Irish cases increased by a staggering 244% between 2017 and 2018.

According to UNICEF, there were 86 cases in Ireland last year, up from 25 the previous year. The charity warned of a global increase with 98 countries reporting a surge.

UNICEF Ireland’s executive director Peter Power described the figures as a “wake-up call”.

There is an increased risk for those who have not been vaccinated with MMR or have not had measles in the past. There is also a risk of shingles.

Children should be vaccinated at 12 months and again at five years, according to the HSE, as should adults under 40 years who have not had the disease.

Health chiefs also advise that there is a risk of developing measles for up to 21 days after contact with a case of measles.

The HSE attributes the latest outbreak to a fall in vaccination rates. There have also been reports of outbreaks of mumps, with a suspected case in Dail Eireann.

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