HSE urges vigilance after two measles cases reported in Dublin

Two infectious patients attended four different hospitals in July

People are being encouraged to get the MMR vaccine. Photograph:  David Jones/PA Wire

People are being encouraged to get the MMR vaccine. Photograph: David Jones/PA Wire

 

The Health Service Executive has urged people to be vigilant about measles after two people who were infectious attended four different hospitals earlier this month.

The service said it had been notified of two cases of measles in an adult and a child in Dublin who had recently been in mainland Europe. It is understood they are from the same family.

At the times when they were most infectious, the two individuals attended hospital emergency departments at Tallaght University Hospital on July 1st (11.30am-1.30pm) and July 5th (12am-8am), the Mater hospital on July 7th (11am-8pm), Temple Street Children’s University Hospital on July 13th (3pm and 8pm), July 15th-16th (5pm-1am) and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin on July 16th (12pm-2.30pm).

The HSE said there was a possible risk of measles to people who may have been in the same healthcare setting as these two cases during the infectious period. Anyone who had, should consider the MMR vaccination if they had not already had it.

The public health department has sent an alert to all emergency departments and GPs in Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow to inform them to be vigilant.

People at increased risk are those who are not fully vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine or who have not had measles in the past. The risk of measles is for up to 21 days after contact with a case.

Dr Helena Murray, specialist in public health medicine said: “Measles can be a serious illness and is highly infectious. The best protection is to be fully vaccinated with two doses of MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine.”

Vaccinations

She said some European countries were currently seeing hundreds of cases of measles a month and that vaccination was the most effective measure against infection. Babies aged between six and 11 months should receive a dose of MMR if travelling to Europe, Dr Murray said.

They should also have the normal dose at 12 months.

Most of the cases in the EU in 2018 were reported from Romania, France, Greece, and Italy.

“Unrecognised exposures to measles have occurred at airports, on planes, at concerts, in shops and health care settings. In 2018, 31 deaths associated with measles have been reported in EU countries,” the HSE said.

Symptoms include a high fever, cough, a runny nose, red eyes, a red rash that starts on the head and spreads down the body. This normally starts a few days after the onset of illness.

The rash consists of flat red or brown blotches, which can flow into each other.

Measles lasts about four to seven days and there may also be vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain.

Complications of measles can cause chest infections, fits (seizures), ear infections, swelling of the brain and/or damage to the brain.

It is a notifiable disease and GPs and hospital clinicians should immediately notify public health services if they suspect someone has measles.

The HSE asked that people do not contact the hospitals if they think they may have come in contact with a case of measles and to seek advice from their GP.

There were 25 cases of measles in Ireland last year. The last major outbreak was in 2000, when there were 1,600 cases.