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'18-year high' for measles

11th February 2013

The Health Protection Agency has warned that cases of measles are at their highest level in England and Wales for almost two decades.

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With major outbreaks in Merseyside, Surrey and Sussex – and smaller outbreaks in travelling communities - figures show that there were 2,016 cases in 2012.

As a resulted of the highest number of cases for 18 years, the HPA has urged parents to ensure that their children are immunised against the disease through the MMR vaccine.

HPA head of immunisation Dr Mary Ramsay said that while coverage of the MMR vaccine was now at historically high levels, she warned that measles still remained highly infectious.

She said it could still “spread easily among communities that are poorly vaccinated, and can affect anyone who is susceptible, including toddlers in whom vaccination has been delayed.”

Older children who were not routinely vaccinated but were still at school, were at particular risk.

Dr Ramsay added: “Measles is often associated with being a disease of the past and as a result people may be unaware that it is dangerous infection that can lead to death in severe cases.

“Parents should ensure their children are fully protected against measles, mumps and rubella with two doses of the MMR vaccine.

“Parents of unvaccinated children, as well as older teenagers and adults who may have missed MMR vaccination, should make an appointment with their GP to get vaccinated.”

Measles is also a risk in a number of European countries including France, Italy, Spain and Romania.

 

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