HSE Public Health Departments and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) are currently investigating an ongoing measles outbreak in different parts of Ireland. Outbreak control teams have been convened in HSE East, South and Midwest. Thirty confirmed measles cases have been identified to date, 22 of which are in Kerry. All cases have occurred in individuals under 30 years of age, with six cases in children under one year.
It is believed that the source of infection most likely came from another European country where measles outbreaks are occurring.
Most of those who have been infected as a result of this outbreak did not know that they had been in contact with measles. It is also known that most had not received the MMR (Measles- Mumps- Rubella) vaccine.
In drawing particular attention to this outbreak, the HSE, according to Dr. Fiona Ryan, Consultant in Public Health said they were “looking to raise public awareness around the signs and symptoms of the condition and ensure that anyone with concerns addresses them immediately in order to receive a rapid diagnosis. This in turn allows the HSE HPSC Public Health teams to be fully responsive and in a position to implement all necessary control measures.”
Dr Ryan stressed that “measles is highly infectious, and if cases are isolated early, the risk of transmission to vulnerable individuals decreases. The time between exposure to the virus and developing measles rash is normally 14 days (range 7-21 days). People are infectious from 4 days before rash starts until 4 days after.”
People who are fully vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine are normally protected. Those most at risk are those who are not fully vaccinated with two doses of MMR, babies (younger than 12 months so too young to be vaccinated), and those with weakened immune systems if exposed.