First Measles Case in Iceland in Five Years

Landspítali national hospital

An adult traveller visiting Iceland was diagnosed with measles on February 2, Iceland’s first case of the highly infection illness in five years. The man is in isolation at the National Hospital and all those at risk of exposure to the illness have been contacted by authorities.

A serious illness

Measles are a highly infectious, serious illness, characterised by red flecks that spread across the skin. The death rate of measles infection is 1-3 per 1,000 cases. Once infected, it usually takes 10-12 days for symptoms to appear.

While those who have been vaccinated against measles are very unlikely to get infected, participation in measles vaccination in Iceland has been falling in recent years. According to the newest review by the Directorate of Health, participation has dropped from around 93-95% down to around 90%, which is too low to maintain herd immunity.

“We would really like to see higher [participation] in order to better prevent the spread of infection through society, but participation needs to be quite good to ensure that,” Chief Epidemiologist Guðrún Aspelund told RÚV. She added that measles infections are on the rise in Europe, which increases the likelihood of an outbreak in Iceland.

Eradicated in the 90s in Iceland

Measles were eradicated in Iceland in the 1990s, and were not diagnosed again until 2014. Since that date, all measles cases diagnosed in Iceland have originated abroad. “It’s not circulating here in Iceland and we want to prevent it from spreading and leading to group outbreaks or more cases here,” Guðrún stated.

Children in Iceland typically receive two measles vaccinations, which Guðrún says provide protection for life.

Over 30 Norovirus Cases at Reykjavík Burger Chain

Health authorities in Reykjavík have received at least 15 reports of illness connected to two locations of the Reykjavík burger chain Hamborgarafabrikkan. One of the locations has since been closed, RÚV reports. The illness seems to be a norovirus infection, according to Óskar Ísfeld Sigurðsson, department head at the Reykjavík Health Authority. Óskar says the total number of people who have gotten ill is between 30 and 40.

The symptoms of norovirus infection are typically vomiting and diarrhoea. The infection can be dangerous for those with underlying illnesses or chronic conditions. A norovirus outbreak occurred at a hotel in East Iceland earlier this month, but there are no indications the two outbreaks are related.

Hamborgarafabrikkan is a popular chain and no such cases have occurred at the restaurant previously.