The HSE Public Health Departments and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) continue to investigate and implement control measures to limit the measles outbreak that was first identified in early May. Outbreak control teams have been convened in HSE East, Northeast, South, Southeast and Midwest. As of this week, 33 cases have been confirmed nationally. Most of those affected are under ten years.
Over 70% of all cases to date never received the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine. However, in a minority of these cases, it was because they were aged less than one year and were not due the vaccine until 12 months of age.
Stressing the continuing need for vigilance, Dr Kevin Kelleher, HSE Consultant in Public Health stressed that they wanted “to maintain public and clinician 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 our Public Health teams to be fully responsive and in a position to implement all necessary control measures.”
Dr Kelleher added 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 four days before rash starts until four 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 and too young to be vaccinated as part of routine programme), non-immune pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems if exposed.