Measles outbreaks in Europe - protect yourself and your family this summer

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In 2017 a number of European countries are reporting large measles outbreaks - Romania, Italy and Germany are the biggest. Other countries are also reporting a dramatic increase in cases in comparison to the same time in 2016 - Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, France, Germany, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Slovenia and Sweden. Iceland has reported two cases of measles, the first time in a quarter of a century that measles infection has occurred in Iceland.

Although no confirmed cases have been notified in Ireland this year (yet) you could get measles if someone brings it back from overseas. For example, in 2016 two different measles virus importations occurred when people who were exposed in other European countries brought the virus into the country unknowingly. Another importation followed travel to Pakistan. None of them had been vaccinated. As a result of these three importations 43 cases were notified. Transmission from infected to non immune people occurred during international air travel, in hospital and community settings.

  • The best way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated with the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine.
  • Parents should not delay getting the MMR for their child when it is due (12 months and second dose at preschool age, 4-5 years of age).
  • Children aged 6-11 months of age, travelling to other countries and regions where measles outbreaks are reported, are recommended MMR vaccine. A dose given before 12 months of age does not replace the dose that would normally be given at 12 months of age.
  • If you are an older child or young adult and are not vaccinated, or not sure, you should speak with your GP about getting the vaccine - even if you are planning your holidays in Ireland!

Further information:
Epidemiological updates on measles outbreaks are available on the ECDC website

Information on the Irish immunisation schedule is available from the HSE National Immunisation Office