Measles cases at ’18-year high’
Measles cases in England and Wales have risen to two,016 in 2012, the top annual total for 18 years, says the Health Protection Agency.
The measles cases during 2012 has been related to prolonged outbreaks in Merseyside, Surrey and Sussex.
There were also several smaller outbreaks in travelling communities.
The HPA said parents should ensure their children are fully shielded from the disease with the MMR vaccine.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation on the Health Protection Agency, said coverage of the MMR vaccine is now at historically high levels.
“But measles is very infectious and may spread easily among communities which are poorly vaccinated, and may affect anyone who’s susceptible, including toddlers in whom vaccination have been delayed.”
The measles virus can spread through droplets within the air that pop out of the nose and mouth when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The initial symptoms include cold-like symptoms, red eyes which can be sensitive to light, a fever and greyish white spots within the mouth and throat.
These become a red-brown spotty rash after about a days.
Dr Ramsay said older children who weren’t vaccinated on the routine age, who were now teenagers, were at particular risk of turning into exposed while at college.
The only technique to prevent outbreaks of measles is to make sure children are being vaccinated, Dr Ramsay said.
“Measles is normally related to being a disease of the past and in consequence people may well be unaware that it’s dangerous infection which may bring about death in severe cases.
“Parents should ensure their children are fully shielded from measles, mumps and rubella with two doses of the MMR vaccine.
“Parents of unvaccinated children, in addition to older teenagers and adults who may need missed MMR vaccination, should make an appointment with their GP to get vaccinated.
Professor Ian Jones, from the University of Reading’s School of biological sciences, said that “the present rate of infection, that is inversely concerning the extent of immunisation within the population, is unacceptably high”.
“The numbers had been swollen by very localised pockets of infection (eg. a virus in Liverpool) and for many counties rates of immunisation of over 90% are the norm, the very best in 13 years.”
He said the MMR vaccine offered lifelong protection from measles, mumps and rubella.
“If the immunisation record is uncertain, as an example for travellers, assume it truly is incomplete and feature a booster – you can’t over immunise.”
Measles continues to circulate in different European countries, well liked by holidaymakers.
The UK together with France, Italy, Spain and Romania accounted for 87% of the whole 7,392 measles cases reported through the European Union countries as much as the top of November 2012.