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Three new measles cases in Tampere

An unvaccinated individual, who caught the contagious disease in Poland, attended a large church service in Tampere and infected at least two other people.

Ulkokuva Tampereen yliopistosairaalasta.
The Tampere University Hospital, part of the Pirkanmaa Hospital District, where the outbreak of measles was detected. Image: Studio Sami Helenius Oy

Three adults have been diagnosed with measles in Tampere after attending a Catholic Parish church event in late November along with more than 100 people, according to the Pirkanmaa Hospital District.

Two of the adults diagnosed have been vaccinated, so they are not contagious. The source of the outbreak is an unvaccinated person, who caught the measles in Poland. But according to the Pirkanmaa Hospital District, further cases may still arise.

In 1975 Finland began to administer a single dose of the measles vaccine to all one-year-olds and by 1982 Finland began administering the vaccine in two doses between the ages of one and six. However some people born in the 1970s are among those who received only one jab. MMR is a triple-dose vaccine that provides protection against measles, mumps and rubella.

Measles spread at religious event

The event in question was Tampere's Pyhän Ristin (Sacred Cross) Catholic Parish church mass on November 25. It was attended by more than 100 people, including children.

Pirkanmaa Hospital District doctor Kirsi Valve, a specialist in infectious diseases, confirmed that the infected individual who caught the measles in Poland was at the church event.

The cases came to light when two vaccinated individuals contracted high fevers and came down with skin rashes. The unvaccinated person, who infected the others, has had more severe symptoms than the vaccinated individuals.

”The individuals quickly got in touch with healthcare services owing to high fevers, and skin rashes that rapidly spread all over their bodies,” says Valve.

”On Thursday it was confirmed that on November 25th the unvaccinated individual who caught the measles in Poland and brought it back to Finland was at the parish event and is the source of the outbreak,” says Valve.

As the source of the outbreak is known, healthcare officials are also looking into whether the person could have possibly exposed others.

Measles in the news

Measles has been on the agenda this winter after an unvaccinated child in Ostrobothnia took ill with measles. Meanwhile, it also came to light that many adults in Finland may not have been vaccinated against measles during the early 1970s.

Measles is a rare disease. The previous outbreak was two summers ago when four vaccinated children caught measles in Italy and and started showing symptoms after returning to Finland.

The Pirkanmaa Hospital District recommends that anyone who attended the Catholic parish event in late November and exhibits symptoms that suggest measles or anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated with the MMR vaccine contact their healthcare centre.

If those who attended the parish event are healthy, but have not been vaccinated, the Pirkanmaa Hospital District recommends that they contact their healthcare centre to be vaccinated. The measles vaccine is free and administered as part of the MMR shot, which also provides protection against rubella and the mumps.

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