Increase in measles cases in the UK


The Health Protection Agency UK recently reported an increase in measles cases in England and Wales. More than 70 cases were reported in the first three months of 2006. Cases are occurring among infants, children and adults. Nine cases were hospitalized and there was one measles related death in a 13-year-old child with an underlying lung condition who was taking immunosuppressive drugs.

Since 2005 there have been a number of outbreaks of measles among the travelling community across England, with the majority of the cases associated with the travelling community.

Current situation in Ireland
Although the HPSC has not seen an increase in measles cases in Ireland compared to previous years, there is concern. Ireland experienced a large outbreak in 2000, with over 1600 measles cases reported. Three children died as a result of infection acquired during that outbreak. Low levels of MMR vaccination among children meant that large numbers of children were susceptible to infection, and the virus spread rapidly throughout the country.

MMR vaccination uptake in Ireland (Q3 2005)
Most recent figures indicate that on average, only 84% of Irish children at 24 months of age have received one dose of MMR (Immunisation report Q3 2005). A sustained MMR uptake rate of at least 95% is needed to prevent measles outbreaks occurring in the community.

Measles is a highly infectious disease that can cause serious complications, particularly among children less than 5 years of age and adults. The infection is characterized by a general body rash, a fever, and one or more of the following; cough, conjunctivitis, and runny nose.  Measles is a notifiable disease.

MMR to protect against measles
MMR vaccine protects against measles. The vaccine is safe and effective. It is routinely given when children are 12-15 months of age, and a booster is given at 4-5 years of age.

All parents are encouraged to ensure that their children are vaccinated with MMR at the appropriate age to protect against measles infection. MMR vaccine is available from the GP.

For more information on the measles in Ireland please see:

For more information on the measles outbreak in the UK please see:

Recent reports on national immunisation uptake statistics are available at: