An adult diagnosed with measles has died in hospital in the first confirmed measles case in Ireland this year, the health service executive (HSE) has said
An adult who was diagnosed with measles has tragically died in an Irish hospital, marking the first confirmed case of measles in Ireland this year, according to the health service executive (HSE).
The patient passed away in a hospital within the Dublin and Midlands health region, following Health Minister Stephen Donnelly’s warning that Ireland is at high risk of a measles outbreak. There has been a surge in measles cases across Europe recently, with several deaths reported in Romania.
In England’s West Midlands, over 170 measles cases were identified between December 2023 and mid-January 2024, but all regions in England have reported cases. In Ireland, there were four reported cases of measles in 2023 and two in 2022. While no cases were reported in 2021, five instances were recorded in 2020, according to the HSE, with no deaths reported in those years.
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The HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre was informed about the death. “HSE public health teams, along with the HSE measles national incident management team (IMT), are taking all necessary public health actions in relation to the case,” the HSE announced on Wednesday.
“The HSE measles IMT was established in response to a recent rise in measles cases in the UK and Europe.” The HSE assured that it will keep the public updated on further measures and advised anyone with concerns to contact their GP. Measles is a highly contagious disease that can lead to serious health complications. It’s not just about the rash, the virus can spread throughout the body causing severe problems.
Symptoms usually appear seven to 14 days after infection, including high temperature, cough, runny or blocked nose, and red, watery eyes. The rash typically shows up a few days later. Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Breda Smyth has expressed her worry over the country’s risk of a measles outbreak due to low vaccination rates. To prevent the virus from spreading, a 95% vaccination rate is required, but Ireland is currently at 89.2%. In some areas, it’s even below 80%.
Health Minister Mr Donnelly informed the Cabinet on Tuesday about the potential risk of a measles outbreak. He highlighted that approximately one in five young men aged 19-21 in Ireland are not vaccinated against the virus. It’s believed that past misinformation has impacted the number of children receiving the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.
To address this, an MMR catch-up programme was launched in November 2023 through GPs. This initiative encourages those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated to get their shots. The vaccine is available for free from GPs for children aged 10 and under.