Update of Porthmadog measles outbreak

Monday, 5 March 2012
A further three children have been clinically diagnosed with measles in Porthmadog bringing the total number of cases to 33.
Twenty nine of the cases are associated with the outbreak in Ysgol Eifionydd School, Porthmadog, Gwynedd.
The other four cases live in the same geographical area but have no direct links to the outbreak associated with the school.
The majority of all cases have either had no MMR vaccination or only one dose.
Dr Judy Hart, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales, said: “Measles is highly infectious and spreads very easily.
“The measles virus is now circulating in the community. Therefore, all those not protected by two doses of MMR vaccine are at risk of catching the disease.
“Most of the cases under investigation could have been prevented by MMR vaccine.
“MMR is a safe and effective vaccine that protects children from the most severe and unpleasant viral-rash illness of childhood.
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.
GPs across North Wales are working hard to offer vaccinations to local children who have not had both doses of the MMR vaccine.
Vaccination catch up sessions were also arranged last week in two Porthmadog schools. A total of 30 children were vaccinated at these sessions.
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 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 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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