A measles outbreak in
Co. Donegal has continued, with seven cases of the disease now confirmed by the
The outbreak began two weeks ago and the HSE advises anyone who suspects they may have measles to call their GP to inform them, rather than going to the surgery.
The number of people receiving the MMR (Measles, Mumps,
Rubella) vaccine in Donegal has been dropping slightly over the past few years.
The HSE states that as soon as vaccination rates fall, old
diseases then re-emerge, which is why there has been outbreaks of measles occurring
in Ireland and Europe.
Dr. Anthony Breslin, a Specialist in Communicable Diseases
and Environmental Health, explained the two ways in which the MMR vaccine
“Vaccines work in two ways. The first is by directly
protecting the person who receives the vaccine. The Measles part of the
MMR is 95% effective.
“The second way in which the MMR works is through herd
immunity. This means that if we have 95% of the population vaccinated then the
virus cannot infect people and there is no virus circulation.
“Herd immunity is important because some people cannot get
the vaccine for health reasons and some people who do get the vaccine may have
a poor response to the vaccine. Therefore, both of these groups are susceptible
to infection from the virus,” Breslin said.
“This means that there is no herd immunity and if the measles
virus gets into a population or community those who are not immunised, who
cannot be immunised or who have a poor response to vaccination will become
Measles is very infectious and is an illness which can have
serious complication, particularly in infants under 12 months and people with
weakened immune systems.
The disease is transmitted through direct contact with an
infected person or through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms can include a rash, along with cough, runny nose,
conjunctivitis and high fever. The rash usually starts four days after other
There has also been a large rise in the outbreak of mumps at the beginning of 2019. In the first six weeks of the year, 278 mumps cases were notified in comparison to 43 for the same time period in 2018. There were 576 cases in all of 2018, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
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