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Published On: Thu, Dec 13th, 2012

Measles outbreak declared in Northern Ireland

Measles Image/CDC

Irish health officials have declared an outbreak of measles after four cases of the disease were detected in children in south Belfast this past week, according to a Public Health Agency (PHA) news release Dec. 12.

The PHA has contacted the parents of other children who may have been exposed to the infected children and advised them to quickly vaccinate with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine for those who need it.

Dr Richard Smithson, Consultant in Health Protection, PHA, explained: “In Northern Ireland we have had high uptake levels for MMR immunization  which is why we have generally seen very few cases of measles here compared with the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. However, cases which have occurred here in unvaccinated people are of serious concern and remind us that there is no room for complacency. For those children and young people who have not been vaccinated, it is essential that they get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Children who are not already fully vaccinated should go to their GP for the MMR vaccine as soon as possible. The PHA advises that anyone who may have been in contact with a measles case and who feels at all unwell should stay at home as this is an infectious condition even before the associated rash develops. If medical advice is needed, then they should phone the GP or out-of-hours service so that arrangements can be made to see the patient without putting others at risk.”

In addition, health care practitioners and emergency departments  received letters advising them to be vigilant for measles symptoms in patients presenting to them.

Measles is one of the most infectious of all communicable diseases, and is spread by coughing and sneezing.

Measles or rubeola, is an acute highly communicable viral disease that is characterized by Koplik spots in the cheek or tongue very early in the disease. A couple of days later a red blotchy rash appears first on the face, and then spreads, lasting 4-7 days. Other symptoms include fever, cough and red watery eyes. The patient may be contagious from four days prior to the rash appearance to four days after rash appearance.

The disease is more severe in infants and adults. Complications from measles which is reported in up to 20% of people infected include; seizures, pneumonia, deafness and encephalitis.

Prevention of measles is through vaccination.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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