Measles outbreak in Liverpool spreads across region

The number of confirmed measles cases in Merseyside has spread beyond Liverpool, health officials have said.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is now investigating 48 confirmed cases, 37 probable cases and 108 possible cases.

A measles outbreak was declared on 16 February. The majority of patients are concentrated in the Liverpool area.

But an HPA spokesman added: "We are also beginning to see cases that are further afield."

There are now confirmed, probable and possible cases in central and eastern Cheshire, Halton and St Helens, Knowsley, Sefton, and Wirral with probable and possible cases in Warrington and western Cheshire.

HPA data has also revealed more than 7,000 children under the age of five were not vaccinated or partially vaccinated in Merseyside.

Vaccination plea

Dr Roberto Vivancos, a consultant with the HPA's Cheshire and Merseyside Health Protection Unit, said: "Measles is highly infectious and unvaccinated children are at risk when it gets into a community.

"Furthermore, when unvaccinated older children pick up an infection they can pass it on to vulnerable infants who are too young to be vaccinated. That would appear to be what's happening in this outbreak."

Primary care trusts on Merseyside are writing to the parents of every unvaccinated child urging them to contact their GP.

The HPA is advising people with symptoms of measles to telephone their family GP for advice before attending surgeries.

Symptoms include a 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.

Anyone who believes they may have the disease should stay away from school, nursery or work until at least four days have elapsed since the rash developed and avoid contact with pregnant women who are more vulnerable to infection.

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