Second case of measles confirmed as chief medical officer warns of disease spread

Teenager in the west of Ireland has measles while there are also 20 suspected cases in the State


A second case of measles in the State this year has been confirmed.

A teenager in the west of Ireland was diagnosed with the contagious disease on Wednesday.

The only other confirmed case of measles this year was in a man in Mullingar who subsequently died last month having contracted the disease in Birmingham.

In a statement relating to the latest case, the Health Service Executive (HSE) said “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.”


In addition to the two confirmed cases, there have been 20 suspected cases so far this year including nine in the week ending March 2nd, the latest for which figures are available. All of the suspected cases from that week are aged nine and under.

The HSE is finalising plans for the roll out of a proactive MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccine catch-up programme in response to a rise in measles case in the UK and Europe.

This catch-up programme will prioritise children and young adults, healthcare workers and marginalised groups such as refugees, applicants seeking protection and the homeless community.

Current public health advice indicates that people born in Ireland before 1978 are likely to have been exposed to measles as children and, therefore, unlikely to require the MMR vaccine.

The chief medical officer Professor Breda Smyth said MMR vaccination rates are now below 90 per cent which is too low to achieve herd immunity.

In a video message posted on the Department of Health’s X page, she described measles as “extremely contagious” and every infected person is likely to infect between 12 and 18 others.

The people most at risk from measles are children under the age of 12 months who have not yet received the vaccine, pregnant women or the immunosuppressed who have not been vaccinated.

This can be prevented by herd immunity which can be achieved if more than 95 per cent of the population have had the MMR vaccine.

“Getting vaccinated protects our personal health, but also makes us team players. The MMR is a safe effective vaccine,” she said.

“The only protection against measles is vaccination and MMR vaccine uptake in Ireland is currently too low to prevent measles from spreading.

“In serious cases, complications can include ear infections, pneumonia, febrile seizures and inflammation of the brain or encephalitis. It can also lead to death.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times