There has been a small number of cases of measles in South Tipperary recently, some of whom have been admitted to South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel.
Patients who might have been exposed while in the hospital are being contacted and visiting restrictions have been placed on the hospital. Known measles contacts in the community are also being advised to be alert to the symptoms of measles and they are being given information on the MMR vaccine to prevent measles. Most people born before 1978 are likely to have had measles infection and will therefore be immune and not at risk.
Measles is a highly infectious virus, which is spread by airborne droplets caused by sneezing and coughing or by direct contact with such droplets on hands or surfaces.
It causes symptoms ranging from a high fever with a cough, runny nose and a rash, to more serious complications, such as pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Pregnant women, very young children and older people, as well as those whose immune system is not as strong as it should be, because of other illnesses or treatment, are particularly vulnerable to measles complications.
The illness typically begins with the following symptoms:
· High fever
· Runny nose
· Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
· After a few days, a red rash starts on the head and spreads down the body
The time between exposure to the virus and developing measles rash is normally 14 days (range 7-21 days). People are infectious from 4 days before the rash starts until 4 days after the rash starts.
The best way of preventing the spread of measles is vaccination. Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) is a safe and effective vaccine. MMR is contraindicated in pregnancy and pregnancy should be avoided for one month after getting MMR.
Who should be vaccinated?
· All children should routinely get MMR at 12 months of age and the second dose at 4-5 years of age.
· All adults born since 1978 should have had two doses of MMR.
· Any child or adult who missed their scheduled MMR vaccine dose should contact their GP to get the age appropriate dose.
· Most people born before 1978 are likely to have had measles infection and will therefore be immune and not at risk.
What should I do if I think I have measles?
· Stay at home and phone your GP, rather than visiting the GP practice.
· Tell the doctor or nurse that you think you may have measles
· Stop anyone from visiting your house