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.