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Parents urged to vaccinate children after increase in measles casesThursday, 31 January 2013
Public Health Wales is urging parents in the Swansea, Bridgend and Neath areas to get their children vaccinated with MMR following an increase in measles cases locally.
There have been 112 notifications of measles in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board area since the beginning of November 2012.
This includes an outbreak of 10 suspected cases of measles in a Swansea primary school, where a special vaccination session is being held for around 60 children who are not fully vaccinated with MMR.
Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral disease that can cause complications including pneumonia, meningitis and encephalitis, particularly in children under five years of age and those with weakened immune systems. It can be fatal.
Two doses of the MMR vaccination is the best way to get protection against this virus.
Dr Jorg Hoffmann, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales said: “Although we have only had 33 laboratory confirmed cases of measles in the area since November, measles is easy to diagnose from its symptoms and we have been notified of a total of 112 suspected cases in that period of time.
“Many of the cases under investigation had not received their scheduled MMR vaccinations.
“We are urging parents throughout the area and throughout Wales who have not arranged immunisation for their children to act immediately to get them vaccinated.
“MMR is a safe and effective vaccine that protects children from the most severe viral rash illness of childhood.”
Children should receive their first dose of the vaccine at 12 to 13 months of age and the second at around three years and four months of age. It is never too late to catch up on missed doses.
Many people who catch measles will have a fever, cough, red eyes, and blocked nose and feel generally unwell. The blotchy rash appears a few days later beginning on the face and spreading downwards to the rest of the body over several days.
Dr Hoffmann added: “If your child is unwell and you suspect it is measles, you should contact your GP. Your child should not attend school or nursery for five days after the rash starts.
“The only way to prevent outbreaks of measles is to ensure that at least 95 per cent of children in Wales have received two doses of the MMR vaccine. Although our uptake figures have improved, we still have some way to go before we can guarantee the safety of Welsh children from measles.”
More information about measles is available from the Public Health Wales website: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/43749
Source: Public Health Wales