Measles – What to look out for and what you need to know

A second case of measles in Ireland for 2024 was confirmed to have occurred in the West of Ireland last week. There are also another 20 ‘suspected cases’ around the country.

The Chief Medical Officer Breda Smyth has also said she is “very concerned” that Ireland is at high risk of a measles outbreak. While the Irish College of General Practitioners has recently issued a ‘Measles Clinical Alert’ on the disease.

Measles are very serious, highly infectious and need to be treated with utmost caution if someone does contract this illness.

Thankfully at the time of writing, we in Hazelhill Family Practice are not aware of any cases in our local community.

However the possibility of contracting measles remains. Outbreaks have recently occurred in the UK and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) has also said the probability of exposure in Europe is expected to rise on the back of the growing number of cases across the region. With the high levels of travel between Ireland and the UK or Europe, the probability that further measles infections will be imported is high.

If you are concerned about measles, here are some of the key things to look out for and what you need to know about measles.

How to prevent measles?

The most effective means of battling against measles is the MMR vaccine. It is safe and very effective, offering a high level of protection against measles, mumps and rubella.

So, if you have had this vaccine then you are relatively safe from contracting this condition.

To prevent the spread of the illness, 95% of the population needs to be vaccinated. In Ireland, the vaccine rate currently is in the region of 89%.

While the vaccine is generally given to children, any person at any age can take it – so long as they have not received it previously. For children the vaccine is given in two batches. The first when they are about 12 months old and the second when they are in junior infants in primary school.

For adults, the vaccine is also administered in two batches. The first dose can be provided immediately and then the second dose is given approximately 1 month later.

An MMR ‘catch-up’ programme is shortly due to be rolled out across the country to help address the level of vaccines in Ireland and to try to bring the number of people vaccinated above 95%.


Usually, measles begin with a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes – so almost cold like symptoms. There may also be small grey/ white spots in the mouth.

A few days later, there may be a red rash which starts on the head and spreads downwards over the face, neck and body. Those with measles may also experience a loss of appetite and tiredness, a lack of energy and irritability.

It can then lead to chest infections, ear infections, fits, pneumonia, swelling of the brain and brain damage. In extreme cases it can cause death.

Children under the age of one, pregnant women and people with poor immunity are most susceptible, which is why it is so important there are high levels of vaccination around the country.

What to do

If you are worried you might have contracted measles, you can consider taking the following steps:

  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen for the fever, aches and pains,
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Close the curtains to help reduce light sensitivity.

If you are pregnant then you should contact your GP or maternity hospital.

Should you experience more extreme symptoms then you should go to your nearest Emergency Department or contact 999. These more extreme symptoms may include:

  • A shortness of breath
  • Sharp chest pain that feels worse when breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Fits
  • Coughing up blood

If you have been in close contact with someone who has suspected measles and you have not received the MMR vaccine or had the infection before, then you should contact your local GP.

Please call your GP before you visit as they may need to take precautions to reduce the risk of spreading the potential infection. 

Additional information on measles is available here>>>




Posted in
Scroll to Top