Vaccination warning as measles on the rise
PARENTS are being urged to ensure that their children have the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine as several areas of the country are seeing a major surge in measles.
In the first three weeks of this year, 103 cases have been reported compared to just two for the same period last year.
Since the beginning of November, 204 cases have been reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre compared to 14 for the same period 12 months earlier.
The rise comes as parents in Cork and Kerry were yesterday alerted to an outbreak of measles there.
A total of 26 children were diagnosed with measles in the two counties during the first two weeks of this year.
This is more than five times the total number diagnosed in the whole of 2008, when the HSE South was notified of just five cases.
Together, Cork and Kerry accounted for almost a third of the 165 new cases of measles that were diagnosed nationally last year.
The last major outbreak of measles in Ireland, 10 years ago, led to more than 1,600 cases and three deaths.
The HSE South's public health department says the outbreak is more prevalent among children who have not received the MMR vaccine.
Public-health medicine consultant Dr Fiona Ryan has urged parents whose children have not yet been immunised to bring them to their local GP clinic as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the disease.
"The most important part of controlling an outbreak of measles is to ensure that there is a high level of immunity in the population," she said.
"Measles is highly infectious and can cause severe illness and occasionally death.
"As vaccination with MMR is the only way to prevent measles infection, all parents must make sure their children have received the recommended two doses of the vaccine.
"The first is usually given at 12 months by GPs and the second is administered in schools at four to five years of age."
Dr Ryan said the vaccine could be received at any time and that anyone who was not sure about their vaccination status should get an additional dose.
She added that this would not do the recipient any harm and would protect them against measles, mumps and rubella.
Around nine to 11 days after getting the measles infection, the following symptoms start to appear:
- Runny nose, watery eyes, swollen eyelids and sneezing.
- Red eyes and sensitivity to light.
- A mild to severe temperature, which may peak at over 40.6C (105F). This may fall after several days, only to go up again when the rash appears.
- Tiny, greyish-white spots (called Koplik's spots) in the mouth and throat.
l Tiredness, irritability and a general lack of energy.
- Aches and pains.
- Poor appetite.
- Dry cough.