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We have the second-highest rate of measles in Europe

The rate of measles in Ireland is among the highest in Europe and second only to Romania, new figures reveal.

Between November 2011 and October 2012 the measles rate here was 29.2 per million of population.

This compared to Romania which topped the table with a rate of 194 per million, according to the report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

There were no measles-related deaths reported during the last 12 months across Europe but 10 cases were complicated by acute measles encephalitis – inflammation of the brain tissue.

It comes as Dr Darina O'Flanagan, head of the country's disease watchdog predicted that increased vaccination with the MMR jab may lead to the elimination of measles in Ireland.

She said there were no confirmed cases of rubella (german measles) last year, indicating that MMR vaccination campaigns were working.

Dr O'Flanagan, who was writing in the annual report of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, said the current school-based MMR campaign offered children an extra dose of the vaccine in case they did not receive the necessary two doses of the jab previously.

"Thankfully, the vaccine also covers mumps as it may help reduce the number of cases of this disease which is now common in young adults."

The report showed that Ireland continues to have the highest rate in Europe of stomach illness caused by Ecoli and cryptosporidium. Both of these are spread through water and the users of private water supplies are at higher risk. High rainfall can lead to contamination of inadequately protected water supplies.

The report also showed:

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• There were seven cases of Legionaires disease reported last year and five were associated with travel.

• 2,427 official cases of food poisoning caused by campylobacter were reported, mainly after eating chicken, lettuce and takeaways.

• 311 confirmed cases of salmonella were recorded, although there is a considerable degree of under-reporting of the infection.

• Sixteen people caught leptospirosis, nearly half of whom were farmers. Leptospirosis is a type of bacterial infection that is spread by animals and in severe cases it can cause organ failure or internal bleeding.

• There were 320 people newly diagnosed with HIV, 46pc of whom also found out they had AIDs.The main route of transmission was due to men having sex with men.

• 11,815 sexually transmitted infections were reported and more than half were diagnosed in people in their 20s.