Mumps Diagnosed in Reykjavík Area

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A case of mumps was diagnosed in Iceland’s capital area in early February. Now, a second person connected to the first case has also been diagnosed with the illness. Mumps is a viral respiratory infection that has been quite rare in Iceland since 1989, though a few outbreaks have occurred since then.

Those who were exposed to the positive mumps cases have been informed by health authorities, according to a notice from the Directorate of Health. Those who were exposed and are unvaccinated were advised to stay away from others to reduce the risk of infection. The gestation period for mumps is about three weeks, so it is possible that other cases will emerge in Iceland.

Vaccination is the most effective protection against mumps and has been routine in Iceland since 1989. Since 2000, a few outbreaks have occurred, mainly in people born between 1985-1987. Older cohorts are generally considered immune due to frequent outbreaks prior to 1984.

Rates of measles rising in Europe

A case of measles was diagnosed in Iceland recently as well, in an adult traveller who had recently arrived from abroad. Chief Epidemiologist Guðrún Aspelund stated that measles infections are on the rise in Europe, which increases the likelihood of an outbreak in Iceland.

First Measles Case in Iceland in Five Years

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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.

Health Clinics Around Reykjavík Open for Vaccination Walk-Ins

Health clinics around the capital area have received 6,500 doses of measles vaccination, allowing an ongoing vaccination initiation to resume around Reykjavík, Vísir reports. Public health officials have been urging residents to get vaccinated if they are not already, following a handful of confirmed measles cases in Iceland this spring. Three thousand doses of the vaccine were distributed in Reykjavík and East Iceland last weekend, all of which were used.

Health clinics will be open for measles vaccination walk-ins every weekday between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm. People who prefer not to have to wait can also make an appointment in advance. Adults will pay a small facility fee, but will not have to pay for the vaccination itself.

The vaccination initiative is focused on two target groups:

Children 6 – 18 months old

Adults born in 1970 or later who have not received the measles vaccination, or are not sure that they did

Adults who have already been vaccinated do not have to be vaccinated again. Health Clinics are not able to look up prior vaccination records, so residents are encouraged to try and locate the blue vaccination cards that they would have received at the time of vaccination.

Measles Vaccination Initiative Underway

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3000 doses of measles vaccination have been sent to the country to combat the measles outbreak which started recently. A substantial operation is now underway in both the Reykjavík capital area as well as East Iceland to combat the spread of measles, focusing on 6 to 18-month-old children as well as unvaccinated adults.

The vaccination operation is a preventive measure first and foremost. So far, the operation has been a success, according to Óskar Reykdalsson, head of the health centres in the capital area. Around 1000 individuals were vaccinated in the capital area today. “It went well today. We had 19 health centres open today and we received somewhere around 1000 people. It was mostly children, and some amount of unvaccinated adults, but first and foremost children between six to eighteen months old,” Óskar stated.

Public health services have called for all individuals who have not been vaccinated to head immediately to their closest health center. It is expected that the 3000 vaccination doses will all have been used by the end of the weekend. More doses will be sent to the country in the beginning of next week.

Every person who has not been vaccinated should head to a health centre as soon as possible to get vaccinated for measles. Children that are between six to eighteen months old, along with those born after 1970, will have precedence.

The fifth case of measles in the country has already been confirmed as a kindergarten worker in Egilsstaðir, East Iceland, got infected. The person has now been put into isolation.

Further information in Icelandic about the vaccination initiative can be found here. Measles information is also available by calling the phone number 1700.

More Infected by Measles

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Four cases of measles have been reported in Iceland in recent days, making this the most serious outbreak in decades, RÚV reports. An adult passenger on an Icelandair flight from the Philippines carried the virus and managed to infect three others on the same plane, one adult and two children under the age of 18 months, which is the normal age of vaccination in Iceland.

As Iceland Review reported last Monday, an 11 month old child was infected on the fateful flight, but was then hoped to be the only one. Now it has become apparent that two others are infected.

Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason says that about 90 to 95 of Icelanders are vaccinated against measles and considers it unlikely that a epidemic of the virus will occur due to so-called herd immunity. Cases of measles are reportedly on the rise in Europe.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that can travel by air and touch. Early symptoms are similar to the common flu, fever, nasal congestion, coughing, inflamed eyes, headache and swollen glands. Three or four days after the start of symptoms a rash spreads over the body, the telltale sign of measles.

The National University Hospital of Iceland has released a statement on their Facebook site explaining that unvaccinated children under the age of 18 months are especially sensitive to the virus. They don’t see reason for parents to have children without symptoms checked, but advice anyone who suspects having contracted the virus to call the number 1700, where nurses can be consulted around the clock.

Eleven Month Old Child Infected by Measles

Icelandair Boeing 737 MAX

An 11 month old child was diagnosed with measles last weekend. The virus is thought to have entered into the country via a person that came to Iceland from the Philippines last February 14 on an Icelandair flight, the Directorate of Health has stated.

The child, who was on the same Icelandair flight, is the first to have caught the virus from the individual, and currently considered to be the only one. The child was unvaccinated but has since received treatment and vaccination. After the original person’s sickness became apparent, a warning was sent out to those who travelled on the same flight, and a subsequent flight to Egilsstaðir taken by the unnamed patient zero.

Measles are a virus and are considered a highly contagious infectious disease. Around 10% of children who contract measles run the risk of further health complications, such as encephalitis and pneumonia, as a result.

In Iceland, children around 18 months are vaccinated against the virus, making the disease a rare occurrence in the country. Since 2016, however, there have been repeated cases of measles in flights that have had a layover in Iceland. Luckily, the virus has had a hard time spreading, due to the country’s herd immunity, stemming from years of successful vaccination.

London to Reykjavík Flight Passengers Exposed to Measles

Passengers flying from London to Reykjavík on February 14 and on Air Iceland Connect from Reykjavík to Egilsstaðir may have been exposed to the measles during their flights, RÚV reports. Iceland’s Chief of Epidemiology has been in touch with all the passengers who were onboard both flights, and those passengers who show any symptoms of the measles are encouraged to seek medical attention, particularly those who have never been vaccinated against it.

The affected flights were Icelandair FI455 and Air Iceland Connected NY356. Icelandair spokesperson Ásdís Ýr Pétursdóttir has confirmed that one passenger, who was travelling from the Philippines, has been infected with the measles. This discovery then initiated a standard protocol in collaboration with the Chief of Epidemiology regarding passenger notification.

People who may have been exposed to the virus are advised to be on the lookout for fever, cold symptoms, red eyes, and/or a rash. The website for the Directorate of Health advises any passengers on board either of the effected flights to be on the lookout for symptoms until March 7. The announcement also states that individuals with the measles are only contagious after symptoms begin to manifest and are then contagious for 7 – 10 days afterwards. In general, measles symptoms manifest 10 – 14 days after initial infection, but can still do so after as long as three weeks.

People who have already been vaccinated against the measles need not be vaccinated again, but those who have not, may be vaccinated within six days of infection. Measles vaccinations are available at local health clinics.

This is not the only time that a passenger has travelled through Iceland with the measles virus of late. In June, a passenger flying from Ukraine to Toronto via Berlin and Reykjavík was also found to have had the virus, triggering a similar notification from the Chief of Epidemiology and a vaccination advisory.

The Chief of Epidemiology considers it unlikely that there will be an outbreak of the measles in Iceland, as 95% of the Icelandic public is vaccinated against the virus.