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Outbreak of measles in Gwynedd

Friday, 17 February 2012
Public Health Wales and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are urging parents in Gwynedd to get their children vaccinated with the MMR vaccine following an increase of measles cases associated with Ysgol Eifionydd School, Porthmadog, Gwynedd.
 
Ten children have been clinically diagnosed with measles so far. All cases have either had no MMR vaccination or only one dose.
 
Two doses of the MMR vaccination is the only protection against this virus.
 
A vaccination session for children who have not had both doses of the MMR has been agreed at Ysgol Eifionydd for Wednesday 22 January.
 
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, those with weakened immune systems and children with a poor diet. It can be fatal in rare cases.
 
Dr Chris Whiteside, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales, said: “Many of the cases under investigation have not received their scheduled MMR vaccinations.
 
“I therefore urge parents in North Wales who have not arranged immunisation for their children to act immediately to get them vaccinated.
 
“Measles is highly contagious and spreads very easily. We would therefore expect to see more cases. As long as there are children who have not had their two MMR vaccinations, there is the potential for people to become ill with measles.
 
“There is then a danger for the disease to spread to unvaccinated friends, family or others who cannot be vaccinated due to existing health problems and who are therefore highly vulnerable to measles infection.
 
“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 13 months of age and the second at around three years and four months of age.
 
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 Whiteside continued: “If your child is unwell and you suspect it is measles, you should contact your GP or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647. Your child should not attend school or nursery for five days after the rash starts.
 
“Parents of children who attend the school, will receive a letter about the outbreak on Monday.
 
“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/sites3/page.cfm?orgId=457&pid=25444
 
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