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Measles cases rise in Porthmadog outbreak

Wednesday, 29 February 2012
A further 11 children have been clinically diagnosed with measles bringing the total number of cases to 30 in the outbreak associated with Ysgol Eifionydd School, Porthmadog, Gwynedd.
 
The majority of these cases have either had no MMR vaccination or only one dose.
 
Public Health Wales and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are urging parents in Gwynedd to get their children vaccinated with MMR.
 
Two doses of the MMR vaccine is the only protection against the measles virus.
 
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.
 
Two vaccination catch up sessions were arranged last week in the local area. A total of 30 children were vaccinated at these sessions.
 
GPs in the area are also working hard to offer vaccinations to local children who have not had both doses of the MMR vaccine.
 
Dr Chris Whiteside, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales, said: “Measles is highly contagious and spreads very easily. We predicted that the number of cases would rise but it is sad nonetheless that it has risen so sharply. 
 
“As long as there are children who have not had their two MMR vaccinations, there is the potential for more 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.
 
“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.
 
“MMR is a safe and effective vaccine that protects children from the most severe viral-rash illness of childhood.
 
“There is currently an outbreak of measles in Merseyside. However, we are not aware of any links between the outbreaks in Porthmadog and Merseyside.”
 
Children should receive their first dose of the vaccine at 12-13 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.
 
“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
 
See also:
 
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