Outbreak of measles among Irish Travellers in England, March to May 2007


The Health Protection Agency (HPA) in England and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, (NIPH) have reported two large outbreaks of measles in their countries. These two outbreaks, which are clearly linked, have resulted in over 100 measles cases in recent months. 

Since the end of March 2007, 92 cases have been reported in many regions of the England: London, East of England, South East, South West, East Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber. A further 16 cases have been reported, or are under investigation in Norway. Most cases have never received MMR vaccine.

Both outbreaks have links to members of the Irish travelling community from England. A large gathering of Irish Travellers in south-east London on 3 April 2007 is believed to be the venue where extensive transmission initially took place. Subsequent travel of measles infected individuals throughout England and Norway has spread the disease in this community, with on-going person-to-person transmission continuing to non-immune individuals. The strain of measles virus obtained from cases in Norway and the UK is similar (D4).

As of 15th June 2007 no measles cases among Irish travellers (resident in Ireland) have been identified by the HPSC. However, all children should routinely receive two dose of MMR vaccine, after 12 months of age and at 4-5 years of age. Vaccination is the only way to prevent measles infection.

The full report can be found in Eurosurveillance weekly published 14th June 2007;  http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ew/2007/070614.asp#1