National Disease Surveillance Centre Warns of Outbreak of Measles in the Eastern Health Board and Strongly Advises Parents To Get Their Children Vaccinated
The National Disease Surveillance Centre (NDSC) has been advised of an outbreak of measles in Dublin. Since January 2000 over 40 cases of measles have been notified to the Eastern Health Board. Over 17 children have been hospitalised, with 3 children needing intensive care.
Measles is an acute infection which usually occurs in children aged 1-4 years of age who have not yet been vaccinated against it but it can also occur at any age. Measles is caught through direct contact with an infected person or through the air by coughing and sneezing. It is highly infectious before the rash appears.
Complications associated with measles include severe cough and breathing difficulties (croup), ear infections, viral and bacterials lung infections (pneumonia) and eye infections. Other more serious problems involve the nervous system and inflammation of the brain. Severe disease and complications are most likely in infants under twelve months, those who have weakened immune systems and those who are malnourished.
The National Disease Surveillance strongly urges all parents and carers to have their children vaccinated against measles. The MMR vaccine which is free, can prevent measles in over 90% of cases. This vaccine is given by the GP to children at 12-15 months of age and a second dose is given in primary school at age 11-12 years.
The current reported uptake of the MMR vaccine in Ireland is well below that required to prevent outbreaks of measles and spread throughout the community.
All children need to be protected against measles. Without protection, there is a very real chance that more children may become infected and suffer serious consequences.
Symptoms Associated with Measles
- The first symptoms of measles develop 9-11 days after becoming infected and last up to 14 days from the first signs to the end of the rash
- The first stage of measles includes irritability, a runny nose, conjunctivitis (red eyes) a hacking cough and an increasing fever that comes and goes
- These symptoms may last up to 8 days
- The measles rash (which consists of flat red or brown blotches) starts from day 4 and can last between four to seven days
- The measles rash usually starts on the forehead and spreads downwards over the face, neck and body
- There can also be associated diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain