Ireland health officials declared a measles outbreak in Donegal after two confirmed cases were reported. Officials say the outbreak is linked to a third level institution in Galway.
Measles infection typically causes a rash, fever, conjunctivitis (red eyes), cough or runny nose. The rash usually starts four days after the other symptoms. The rash starts on the forehead, spreads behind the ears and then down the trunk. Measles infection can have serious complications such as pneumonia, seizures and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). 1-2 people out of every 1,000 who become infected with measles will die.
The best way to prevent measles infection is with 2 doses of the MMR vaccine. It is 99% effective at preventing measles infection. The first dose of the MMR is usually given to children at 12 months of age, with a second dose given at 4-5 years of age. Anyone born since 1978 who is unsure if they have received two doses of a measles containing vaccine, such as MMR, should speak with their GP. Most people born before 1978 have had measles infection and will not get measles again.
While the majority of children in Donegal still receive the MMR vaccine, the numbers have been dropping slightly over the past few years. As soon as vaccination rates fall, old diseases re-emerge. This is why measles outbreaks are occurring in Ireland and across Europe. The MMR vaccine has been used for many years and is very safe.
Measles is transmitted through direct contact with an infected person or through the air when the infected person coughs or sneezes.
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