Dáil Éireann - Volume 398 - 10 May, 1990
Written Answers. - Increase in Infectious Diseases.
Mr. Allen Mr. Allen
64. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health if he will make a statement on the report of a marked increase in the incidence of infectious diseases (details supplied) in 1989 compared to 1988.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon) Rory O'Hanlon
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): As Minister for Health, I would obviously be concerned at any increase in the levels of infectious diseases. The situation in relation to the specific diseases referred is as follows.
Measles is a disease which is preventable by means of vaccination. In 1985, some 9,903 cases were reported. However, following the introduction of vaccination this had fallen to 201 cases by 1987. In recent years the reported incidence of measles has shown signs of increasing and this corresponds with a decline in the uptake of vaccination. However, following the introduction of the MMR vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella and with uptake figures of MMR now in excess of 80 per cent I am optimistic that the incidence of measles can be considerably reduced and eventually eliminated.
Mumps only became a notifiable disease in October 1988 so that a direct comparison between the figures for 1988 and 1989 is not possible. However, with the introduction of MMR, the incidence should also be considerably reduced.
There were three significant outbreaks of salmonellosis which contributed to the increased figures for 1989. Apart from these outbreaks it is difficult to say to what extent the increased figures for 1989 may be due to an increase in the incidence of salmonellosis generally or an improvement in notifications to my Department following on an increased public awareness to the risks of salmonellosis.
I am aware of the increase in the incidence of whooping cough during 1989 and this is a cause of concern to me. Unfortunately, because of concerns felt by  some parents arising from court proceedings alleging brain damage which it is claimed was due to whooping cough vaccine, the uptake of this vaccination falls far short of what is desirable. The levels of immunity are therefore lower than what they might otherwise be.
The increase in the reported incidence of Type A Viral Hepatitis occurred primarily as a result of an outbreak in the Westmeath community care area in the last quarter of 1989. The situation here is being closely monitored by the director of community care for the area and by medical officers in my Department.
I would like to take this opportunity to again point out that vaccinations against a wide range of infectious diseases are now available as part of our primary immunisation programme. These include vaccinations against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella and I would urge parents to see that their children have these vaccinations and thereby protect their children against these diseases.
Dáil Éireann 398 Written Answers. Increase in Infectious Diseases.