HSE health warning as measles outbreak in UK

Irish parents are being warned to check their children’s MMR vaccines are up to date a measles outbreak occurs in Leeds and Liverpool.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness and early symptoms can include a runny nose, red eyes, swollen eyelids, sneezing, and fever. A few days later, a red-brown spotty rash appears and lasts for about a week. It starts behind the ears, before spreading around the head and neck, and eventually to the legs and the rest of the body.

What you need to know

Measles is a highly contagious, viral illness, which means antibiotics won’t do anything against it. It’s best to just let it run its course.

Early symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Red eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Red rash
The rash

The rash begins as raised red bumps behind the ears, before spreading down the neck to the rest of the body including arms and legs.

Where is measles most common?

Anyone can catch measles, but it’s young children who are most in danger of coming down with the virus. All it takes is for one or two children to have forgone their immunisations for the virus to spread.

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People born after 1978 should have received two MMR vaccinations. The first is given at twelve months with the second coming when the child is in junior infants.

Read about your child’s immunisation schedule here.

Measles will usually run it’s course in about ten days if there are no complications. However, it can turn into a serious illness with up to one in 20 children developing pneumonia, and one in every 1000 children dying from the disease.


Speaking to RTE Radio 1 this morning, Dr Deirdre Holland said “This is a very serious disease and can have very serious consequences and it is also a highly infectious disease.

It can lead to serious chest infections, ear infections, swelling of the brain and in some circumstances, brain damage.

It’s important that we can get the message out there that measles is circulating in the community.

What we find is….that from first exposure, it would usually show up within 14 days but it can take up to 21 days.”

If you have any concerns please don’t hesitate to contact your GP or medical practitioner. See the HSE website for more information.


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