Fears for young Irish holidaymakers after 35 measles deaths in last year
Irish families holidaying in Europe are being warned about a deadly measles outbreak which has claimed 35 lives in the past year.
The most recent fatality was a six-year-old boy in Italy, where more than 3,300 measles cases and two deaths have occurred since last month.
Several other countries have also reported outbreaks and there have been deaths in Portugal, Germany and Romania.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), which raised the alert, said: "Every death or disability caused by this vaccine-preventable disease is an unacceptable tragedy."
Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe, said: "We are very concerned that although a safe, effective and affordable vaccine is available, measles remains a leading cause of death among children worldwide, and unfortunately Europe is not spared.
"Working closely with health authorities in all European affected countries is our priority to control the outbreaks and maintain high vaccination coverage for all sections of the population."
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre here said the best way to prevent measles was to be vaccinated with the MMR.
"Parents should not delay getting the MMR for their child when it is due - 12 months and second dose at pre-school age for four to five-year-olds," it said.
Children aged six to 11 months, travelling to other countries and regions where measles outbreaks are reported, are recommended to get the MMR vaccine.
For older children and young adults not vaccinated, the advice is to contact a local GP about getting the jab. The WHO recommends that every eligible child receive two doses.