Measles outbreaks in Ireland, Europe, Africa - Measles vaccination recommended in addition to other travel vaccines


The large measles outbreak reported in Ireland earlier this year is decreasing but is not gone.

Since the beginning of 2010, 389 measles cases have been reported to the HPSC; most (52%) cases are less than 5 years of age and from the Dublin area (30%); with 22% less than 1 year of age, too young to have the vaccine usually. Most cases were preventable; of the 230 cases 12 months of age or older, for whom information on vaccination was known, 97% were either unvaccinated or had only one dose of MMR (73% unvaccinated, 24% one dose).

Measles can only be prevented with the MMR vaccine. It is very infectious, and is spread by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Symptoms usually appear 8–12 days after infection and include high fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.

Complications are more common in children under the age of five, or adults over the age of 20. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea and related dehydration, ear infections, or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.

Other countries are also reporting an upsurge in measles cases, and as in Ireland, this is occurring among unvaccinated.
• France has reported 2,000 cases since the beginning of the year
• Germany has reported a measles outbreak in the Essen area
• WHO has reported large measles outbreaks in Eastern and Southern Africa

Reminder about need for MMR vaccination for those travelling and resident in Ireland 
•  Measles outbreaks whether in Ireland or overseas pose a risk to non-vaccinated Irish children and adults
•  All children need two doses of MMR vaccine; at 12-15 months and at age 4-5 years
•  Older children and young adults who have not received at least two doses of MMR should contact their GP for this vaccine.
•  Further details on measles can be found on the HPSC website at