Measles warn­ing for fes­ti­val-go­ers

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - TICKET STUBS - Gráinne Loughran

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.

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