Suspicion of Measles Spread in Northeast Iceland Skip to content

Suspicion of Measles Spread in Northeast Iceland

By Yelena

Gas station in Vopnafjörður, Northeast Iceland
Photo: Páll Stefánsson. Gas station in Vopnafjörður, Northeast Iceland.

Health authorities suspect a second measles case in Northeast Iceland connected to the one that was diagnosed last weekend, RÚV reports. The confirmed case is in an unvaccinated adult who is not seriously ill. Staff at a workplace in Þórshöfn and those who attended a large event in Vopnafjörður last weekend have been asked to stay away from others when possible and monitor themselves for measles symptoms over the next three weeks.

Unvaccinated children at risk

Measles are a highly contagious illness. It normally begins with cold-like symptoms followed by outbreaks of red flecks across the skin several days later. Infection is very unlikely among those who are fully vaccinated against measles. According to Chief Epidemiologist Guðrún Aspelund, health authorities’ main concern is that the illness will continue to spread among unvaccinated people in Northeast Iceland, particularly children.

The health clinic in the area has begun administering vaccinations in Þórshöfn and Vopnafjörður to minimise the likelihood of a larger outbreak. Vaccinations are being offered to children who have not yet received their routine measles vaccine but are close to the standard age when it is given.

Considering earlier vaccination

In Iceland, children currently receive their first dose of vaccine against measles at 18 months and a second dose at 12 years, but authorities are currently discussing whether the second dose should be administered earlier due to rising incidences of measles in Europe and Iceland. Guðrún says the rate of vaccination against measles is generally good in Northeast Iceland.

First case in five years

Last February, Iceland diagnosed its first case of measles in five years in an adult traveller who was visiting the country. According to a recent review by the Directorate of Health, participation in measles vaccination has dropped from around 93-95% down to around 90% in recent years, which is too low to maintain herd immunity.

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