HPSC urges parents to get their children vaccinated against measles as ongoing outbreak leaves child severely ill in hospital


The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre today (Monday) urged parents to make sure that their children are vaccinated against measles following a national outbreak of the disease which has left a child severely ill in hospital with pneumonia as a result of measles infection.

The current outbreak which started in August, is continuing, and there are real concerns about spread among non-vaccinated individuals, according to HPSC specialist in public health medicine, Dr Suzanne Cotter.

Eleven cases have been reported to date in November, bringing the total to 75 so far this year. This compares to 50 for the same period in 2008. Eighteen people have been hospitalized with measles this year and no deaths have been reported. One case has required intensive care treatment and ventilation for severe pneumonia.

Most cases (80%) are less than 10 years of age; with 30% aged 1-2 years of age. A majority of cases this year have occurred among children from the Traveler community.

Measles is highly infectious and can cause severe illness and occasionally cause death. An outbreak in 2000 resulted in more than 1600 cases and three deaths. As vaccination with the MMR is the only way to prevent measles infection, all parents must make sure their children have received the recommended two doses of the vaccine. While the first dose is usually given at 12 months of age by GPs and the second in school at 4-5 years of age, the vaccine can be received at any time, said Dr Cotter.