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Measles reaches 13-year high

28th November 2008

The number of cases of measles in England and Wales has reached a new high.

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Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency shows that cases have topped 1,000 in a year for the first time in more than a decade.

Low take-up of the combined MMR injection in recent years – triggered by research that has since been discredited linking the measles, mumps and rubella jab to autism - has been blamed for measles spreading more easily.

The HPA figures show that in the first 10 months of 2008 there were 1,049 cases, which is more than in the whole of 2007. That compares to a low of 56 cases in 1998.

HPA immunisation expert Dr Mary Ramsay said: "Over the last few years we have seen an unprecedented increase in measles cases and we are still receiving reports of cases across the country.

"The 1,049 figure is the highest number of measles cases recorded in England and Wales since the current method of monitoring the disease was introduced in 1995.

"This rise is due to relatively low MMR vaccine uptake over the past decade and there are now a large number of children who are not fully vaccinated with MMR."

She said that can mean measles spreading easily among unvaccinated children and there was now a real risk of a large measles epidemic.

"These children are susceptible to not only measles but to mumps and rubella as well," added Dr Ramsay.

An outbreak of more than 60 cases in Cheshire has seen moves to vaccinate 10,000 pupils.

 

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