Appeal for parents to vaccinate after dramatic increase in measles in North Dublin

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Parents must ensure their children are properly vaccinated against measles following a dramatic increase in cases in North Dublin. Almost 70% of the 135 cases reported in Ireland this year occurred in Dublin North City.

There is a large pan national outbreak of measles in Europe with more than 26,000 cases in the first six months of this year, almost twice the level of last year. More than half of the reported cases occurred in France where six deaths, 15 neurological complications and 615 cases with severe pneumonia have been reported.

International health officials are blaming it on the failure to vaccinate all children and the increased movement of infected people between countries. As there is more travel between Europe and Ireland over the summer, there is an increased risk to Irish children and teenagers who are not fully vaccinated against measles.

Parents must ensure their children have 2 doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine as it is the only protection from this potentially fatal illness. At the next meeting of the HSE I will be asking why the incidence of the disease is so high in North Dublin.

Measles is highly contagious as the virus spreads easily through the air, and in closed rooms, infected droplets can linger for up to two hours after the sick person leaves. This is why children are particularly vulnerable in homes, crèches, playgroups, camps, schools and universities.

For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die. In the year 2000, a serious outbreak in Dublin saw cases rise as high as 1600, and claimed the lives of 3 young children’.

The disease's most common symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, eye inflammation and rash all over the body. It takes about two weeks for the rash to appear from the time of first infection, and people are contagious from four days before a rash to four days after. A small fraction of people get much sicker, developing pneumonia or even encephalitis.

The MMR vaccine is free with the first dose given at 12 months of age, and the second dose at 4-5 years of age. At the moment, only 90% of children in Ireland have received one dose of MMR by 24 months of age, which is below the target of 95% to prevent cases of measles and measles outbreaks. By not vaccinating your child you are putting other children at risk as well.

The HSE is writing to GPs in the North Inner City of Dublin area today, informing them of the rising numbers of cases and giving specific advice on vaccination measures, and is also arranging for special MMR vaccination clinics to be delivered in primary schools in the North Dublin area, when schools return in September.

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