A CORK GP has warned of a possible rubella outbreak after a person in Cork was diagnosed with the illness in the first confirmed case of the virus in Ireland in more than a decade.
The Echo revealed on Tuesday that the first confirmed case of rubella in Ireland in 11 years had been discovered in a person who works at the Apple campus in Hollyhill, Cork.
Concerned Apple employees have told The Echo that they fear the illness could spread.
Dr Nick Flynn, a representative on the Cork HSE Immunisation Steering Group and a Cork GP, warned that with mumps and measles on the rise, the Cork public could be facing a potential rubella outbreak.
“If that person was infectious and they have been out and about around Cork, we could easily be looking at an outbreak,” he said.
“As a community, we don’t appear to have 'herd immunity' when it comes to measles and mumps - mumps is spreading relatively easily and I’ve been seeing two or three cases a week and we see the same increase with measles every now and again as well.
“There’s no reason we couldn’t see a similar outbreak of rubella because that is included in the MMR vaccine and it should, in theory, have the same level of immunity as the other two.”
Dr Flynn explained that the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine is effective in preventing these illnesses.
“However, it’s clear that the low immunisation levels are coming home to roost in that regard,” he said.
“There is also a concern that the illness can spread from areas of the world where immunisation rates are low.
“The key message to get out there is to encourage parents to vaccinate their children as herd immunity is crucial,” he added.
Apple has confirmed to The Echo that it is working with the HSE on the issue and that it is following guidelines and instructions from the health service.
However, the company has told employees that they are at low risk of infection.
While the HSE has refused to confirm that the exact location of the person with the illness, the HSE South confirmed that it was notified of the case of rubella in recent weeks.
The HSE claimed it has taken “precautionary steps” to alert people who may have come into contact with the rubella virus.
Rubella is an infectious disease that is caused by a virus, according to the HSE, and it can cause a fever of 38ºC or over, and a distinctive red-pink rash.
In most cases, rubella is a mild condition, but it can be serious in pregnant women as it can harm the unborn baby.
The HSE said it has alerted anyone who may have been in contact with the individual who presented with the illness, and that it is in contact with GPs in the area.
“The HSE cannot comment on the specifics of the case, as we have a duty to protect the privacy of the person affected,” a spokesperson said.
“However, we can confirm that all precautionary steps have been taken to alert anyone who may have been in contact with the individual.
“GPs in the area have been asked for their support in maintaining increased surveillance, and also to encourage any non-vaccinated individuals born after 1978 (less than 42 years of age) to get the MMR vaccine.
“The vaccine is free of charge, and available from your GP.”