Background. An outbreak of measles occurred in Ireland between December 1999 and July 2000. The majority of cases were in north Dublin, the catchment area of The Children’s University Hospital (TCUH).
Methods. Details of all of the 111 children attending the hospital with a diagnosis of measles between December 1999 and July 2000 were prospectively entered into a database. Charts were subsequently reviewed to extract epidemiologic and clinical details. National figures were obtained from the National Disease Surveillance Centre.
Results. In the study period 355 attended TCUH with a serologic or clinical diagnosis of measles, and 111 were admitted (47% female, 53% male). The main indications for admission were dehydration in 79%, pneumonia or pneumonitis in 47% and tracheitis in 32%. Thirteen children (11.7% of those admitted) required treatment in the intensive care unit, and in 7 of these mechanical ventilation was necessary. There were 3 deaths as a result of measles. Public health measures to curb spread of the disease included promotion of immunization for susceptible children nationally and recommending administration of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) from the age of 6 months, in North Dublin.
Conclusion. This outbreak of measles posed a major challenge to the hospital and the community for the first half of 2000. The national MMR immunization rate before the outbreak was gravely suboptimal at 79%, whereas the rate in North Dublin, the catchment area of TCUH, was <70%. Three children died as a result of a vaccine-preventable illness.