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Friday, 31 October 2014

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28 measles cases prompts Health Protection Agency appeal

Nearly 30 children have contracted measles in the Carlisle and Eden areas so far this year.

The Health Protection Agency has released figures for Cumbria and Lancashire in a desperate plea for parents to ensure their children are immunised.

There are 91 confirmed cases across the two counties so far this year, compared with just six in 2011. Of those, 18 are in the Carlisle district and 10 are in Eden.

Health experts are particularly concerned as an outbreak in Merseyside has already affected more than 500 people.

Dr Ken Lamden, a consultant with the HPA’s Cumbria and Lancashire health protection unit, said: “There’s a lot of measles around at present. It’s a highly infectious disease that can have serious consequences for some people and anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated is liable to be vulnerable to it.”

He continued: “There’s an on-going outbreak of measles on Merseyside, where more than 500 cases have been confirmed by laboratory testing.

“One-third of these patients was ill enough to require inpatient treatment in hospital and a number were seriously ill – a reminder that measles should not be taken lightly.”

Two doses of MMR vaccine give full protection against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles).

The first dose is given to toddlers at the age of 13 months and the second at the age of four, before the child goes to school.

However, the agency is keen to stress that it is never too late for older children, teenagers and young adults to be vaccinated if they missed out as toddlers.

Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, deputy director of public health at NHS Cumbria, said: “Measles is highly infectious and anyone who has not previously been vaccinated is at risk when it gets into a community, as it has done here.

“While vaccination rates amongst children in Cumbria are currently amongst the highest in the country, there are still a number of teenagers who failed to get protected when they were younger.”

She added: “It is not too late and no one, anywhere in Cumbria, should take the risk of catching measles when a safe and effective vaccine is available.”

Anyone who is unsure should check with their family doctors, who will give advice and arrange vaccination if appropriate.

For information or advice visit immunisation.dh.gov.uk or www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

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