THE fact that a person in Ireland has been diagnosed with rubella for the first time in more than a decade demonstrates the importance of vaccination, according to a Cork GP and a representative on the Cork HSE Immunisation Steering Group.
The Department of Public Health has been notified in recent days about a confirmed case of rubella, which was contracted in another country.
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.
“This case demonstrates the importance again of vaccination,” said Dr Nick Flynn of MyCorkGP.ie and Union Quay clinic, pointing to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.
Dr Flynn also highlighted an increase in mumps cases. “We are in the middle of a mumps outbreak - I’m currently diagnosing two to three cases of mumps per week,” he added.
“If people are vulnerable to mumps infection they are also vulnerable to measles and rubella. This first case of rubella in 10 years is extremely worrying even though this is an imported case,” he said.
“When you look at mumps at the moment you’d have to be worried regarding the possibility of a rubella and even a measles outbreak.”
Dr Flynn encouraged people to attend their GP if they do not have all doses of the necessary doses of the MMR vaccine.
“There is currently an MMR vaccine outbreak vaccination programme,” he explained. All patients between 10 and 30 can attend their GP for a booster vaccination for MMR which will help protect against measles, mumps and rubella.”
Individuals with rubella are most infectious from one week before to one week after the onset of the rash.
The person in this new case first experienced their rash on January 28 this year, according to an email sent to healthcare workers in Cork from Dr Augustine Pereira, Director of Public Health for HSE South.
The last confirmed acute rubella case in Ireland was notified in 2009, Dr Pereira explained.
“Since then, although each year suspected rubella cases are notified, to date none have met the case definition for confirmed,” he said.
He called on GPs and other healthcare workers in Cork to support the HSE’s approach to minimise or eliminate the risk of rubella transmission.
He explained that increased surveillance is of paramount importance to identify any possible case, and advocated for encouraging any non-vaccinated individuals born after 1978 to get the MMR vaccine.