Man dies of measles in Ireland after 'trip to Birmingham'

Birmingham has experienced a significant measles outbreak in recent weeks (Alamy/PA)
Birmingham has experienced a significant measles outbreak in recent weeks (Alamy/PA)

A man has died in Ireland after contracting measles following a trip to Birmingham, health officials have said.

Ireland’s health service executive (HSE) confirmed that the man, believed to be aged in his late 40s, had died in a hospital in the Dublin and Midlands health region.

It is the first confirmed case of measles in Ireland this year and follows a significant rise in cases in the UK. There were four measles cases reported in Ireland in 2023 and two in 2022.

The Irish Independent said the man had recently travelled to Birmingham, which has experienced a significant measles outbreak in recent weeks. The UK Health Security Agency said that transmission in the city “remains a concern”.

Data published by the UKHSA shows that 465 cases of the disease have been confirmed across England since October last year, with 71 per cent recorded in the West Midlands.

Measles spreads very easily and can cause serious health problems, including meningitis and pneumonia. It usually starts with cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash a few days later.

The MMR vaccine is given to children to protect against measles, mumps and rubella as part of the NHS routine vaccination schedule. Children receive their first dose aged one, and their second dose aged three years and four months.

However, the latest data shows that vaccination rates have fallen sharply in England since the pandemic. Just 72.8 per cent of children in the capital had received both doses of the MMR vaccine by the age of five in September 2023 – by far the lowest proportion in the country.

Last month, the NHS urged parents book their children in for the MMR vaccine through pop-up clinics at schools in areas of low vaccine uptake.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, UKHSA Consultant Epidemiologist, said: “The measles outbreak in the West Midlands continues to be a concern. MMR vaccine uptake has been falling over the last decade with 1 out of 10 children starting school in England not protected. Measles is highly infectious and there is a real risk it will spread to other areas.

“Parents should be aware that measles is a nasty illness for most children and sadly for some can be very serious and life changing, but it is completely preventable.

“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your children. I strongly urge parents to take up the offer as soon as possible and protect their child now.”

The ten areas with the lowest vaccination rate against measles in England are all in London, figures revealed, as a GP warned that “misinformation and complacency” was behind a fall in uptake of the jab.

Analysis by the Standard found that children living in Hackney (60 per cent), Kensington and Chelsea (60.7 per cent) and Westminster (61 per cent) had the lowest rate of MMR vaccination of any local authority. More than a third of children were unprotected against measles in the three boroughs as of September last year.