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HSE warns ‘seek medical advice early’ after measles death

The HSE is urging people to seek medical advice early in cases where measles is suspected, in order to minimise the spread of infection.

The warning comes after an adult with a confirmed case of measles died in the Dublin and Midlands Health Region.

It is the first confirmed measles case notified in Ireland this year, the HSE said.

Measles is a highly infectious disease that can cause serious complications, particularly in children aged under one, pregnant women and those who are immunosuppressed.

The signs and symptoms include:

  • Cold-like symptoms such as aches and pains, a runny nose, sneezing and a cough
  • Sore red eyes that may be sensitive to light
  • A temperature of 38C or above, which may reach around 40C
  • Small greyish-white spots in the mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness, irritability and a general lack of energy
  • Rash, which usually appears two to four days after the first symptoms on head and neck first, and spreads to the rest of the body

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Dr Lucy Jessop, HSE National Immunisation Lead and Consultant in Public Health Medicine said early intervention in suspected cases of measles is effective in stopping the spread of infection.

“It is very important people seek medical advice early so we can take appropriate public health measures, so that we can control the spread of any further infections.”

“This is our first case this year … we do have very high awareness amongst our public health professionals, so they are very much keeping a watch.”

Why are we now seeing an ‘alarming rise’ in measles cases?

The MMR vaccine is the most effective measure against measles and it is nearly 100% effective if someone has had two MMR vaccines, Dr Jessop said.

The HSE are currently looking at options on how to increase the uptake of this vaccine, she added.

“We already have a programme within our GP practices where any families, who think their children who are ten years and younger haven’t had their two doses of the MMR, can go to the GP and get that.”

She said when two or more cases are linked “in time and in place” it is considered an outbreak.

The MMR vaccine cannot be given to those aged under one, so this age group is “particularly vulnerable”, Dr Jessop said.

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