Measles warning for festival-goers
Festivalgoers are being encouraged to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date, after measles outbreaks in Ireland and at music festivals in the UK in recent months.
A spokesperson for the HSE said that so far this year, no measles cases in Ireland have been linked to festivals, but cautioned young people born since 1978 – the major age bracket attending Irish festivals – to ensure they have been vaccinated.
“Mass gatherings such as music festivals, where a large group of teenagers and young adults gather, can provide an environment where an individual with measles, if present, could potentially transmit the virus to non-immune individuals at the festival.
“For this reason, the HSE encourages all young adults born since 1978 to ensure that they have received at least one dose of MMR if they have no record of vaccination.”
In England, the NHS said a “significant number” of measles cases were linked to festivals this summer. Sixteen cases were linked to Glastonbury, while the Nass festival near Bristol saw seven outbreaks and there were six cases of the disease at Triplicity in Exmoor.
Dr Muiris Houston, a columnist for The Irish Times, said a measles outbreak linked to a music festival here was a distinct possibility. “With a cohort of people who haven’t had the MMR vaccine, you have the ideal conditions for the measles virus to spread.”
Some 38 confirmed measles cases had been notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in Ireland since May 2016, and a further eight cases were under investigation.
The HSE says that the only way to avoid contracting the disease is to get vaccinated with the combined MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine, which is available from GPs.