Measles rise: MMR jab take up targets not hit in Wales

There were 61 cases of measles reported in Wales in the first six months of the year, up from just 14 in the same period last year.

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Cases of measles in Wales has risen four-fold in the last year, according to new figures.

The rise in Wales is twice the increase for Wales and England taken together, according to Public Health Wales (PHW).

Sixty one cases were reported in Wales in the first six months of 2012.

The reason for the increase has been blamed on people not vaccinating their children. Although take up of the MMR jab has risen, the 95% target has yet to be hit, PHW has said.

It said the take-up rates for the MMR vaccine had increased - 92.7% for first dose and 87.1% for second but not enough to hit the target.

Last year there were just 14 cases of measles during the first six months of 2011.

MEASLES FACTS

  • It is a highly infectious viral illness
  • It causes a fever, coughing and distinctive red-brown spots on the skin
  • You catch measles by breathing in tiny droplets created when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • Possible complications include pneumonia, ear and eye infections and croup
  • Serious complications include inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), which can be fatal
  • Measles in pregnancy can cause miscarriage, premature labour or a baby with low birth weight
  • The most effective way of preventing measles is the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • There is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism

A PHW spokeswoman said although there had not been any measles-related deaths in recent years, the disease can still cause cause blindness, deafness and brain damage.

Meanwhile, Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the Health Protection Agency, which collates figures for England and released figues on the issue, said it was extremely concerning that the number measles cases were rising.

"Measles can be very serious and parents should understand the risks associated with the infection, which in severe cases can result in death.

There were 61 cases of measles reported in Wales in the first six months of the year, up from just 14 in the same period last year.

"Although uptake of the MMR has improved in recent years some children do not get vaccinated on time and some older children, who missed out when uptake was lower, have not had a chance to catch-up.

"Therefore, there are still enough people who are not protected to allow some large outbreaks to occur among unvaccinated individuals."

The most common symptoms of measles are fever, cough, sore eyes and a rash that develops over three to four days, beginning with the face and head and spreading down the body.

People with symptoms are advised to stay away from school, nursery or work until four days have elapsed after the development of a rash.

They are also asked to avoid contact with pregnant women and to telephone their GP for advice before attending the surgery.

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