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Porthmadog measles outbreak update

Monday, 19 March 2012
A further six people have been clinically diagnosed with measles in Porthmadog bringing the total number of cases to 42.
Thirty of the cases are associated with the outbreak in Ysgol Eifionydd School, Porthmadog, Gwynedd.
The other 12 cases live in the same geographical area but have no direct links to the outbreak associated with the school.
The majority of cases have either had no MMR vaccination or only one dose.
Public Health Wales was notified on 15 March 2012 that a health care worker at Bronmeirion Surgery, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd, is one of the 12 suspected cases not linked to the school.
The health care worker was present at work for two days while infectious. You can be infectious for four days before the rash appears. The health care worker would therefore not have known they were infectious.
A total of 61 people have been identified as having contact with the health care worker while he/she was infectious.
As a precaution, the Public Health Wales Health Protection Team is contacting these people by letter or telephone to inform them of the situation and where appropriate offering immediate MMR vaccination. Other patients who visited the surgery this week are not at increased risk of catching measles.
The health care worker is recovering at home.
Dr Judy Hart, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales, said: “Most people who were born before 1970 are immune to measles, having been exposed to the infection in childhood.
“People younger than this may not have been exposed to measles and so they may be at risk unless they have received two doses of the MMR vaccine.
“MMR is a safe and effective vaccine that protects children from the most severe and unpleasant viral-rash illness of childhood.”
GPs across North Wales are working hard to offer vaccinations to local children who have not had both doses of the MMR vaccine.
Children should receive their first dose of the vaccine at 12-13 months of age and the second dose at around three years and four months of age.
Public Health Wales and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are urging parents in North Wales whose children have missed one or both of these doses to get their children vaccinated with MMR.
This is of particular importance as we know large numbers of children will be coming together for the Eisteddfod in the coming weeks.
Measles is a serious and highly infectious 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.
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 Hart continued: “If you or your child is unwell and you suspect it is measles, you should contact your GP by telephone or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647. Your child should not attend school or nursery and you should not attend work 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 more children are having the vaccine now, we still have some way to go before we can guarantee the safety of children in Wales 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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