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Measles on the rise

There has been a huge rise in measles cases over the summer due to a fall in the number of children being vaccinated

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has warned that there has been a huge rise in measles cases over the summer due to a fall in the number of children being vaccinated.

Communities where vaccine uptake is lower have shown the highest increases in cases, including in unvaccinated school children, and children on traveller sites.

According to the HPA, there have been 480 reported cases of measles in the UK so far this year, compared to a provisional total of 756 cases during the whole of 2006.

Up until the 10 June 2007 only 136 cases of measles had been confirmed. With the total now at 480, the number of cases is increasing at a higher rate than usual for this time of year, said the HPA.

Over the course of the year, there have also been small outbreaks in primary schools and cases in people returning from other countries.

Parents are being urged to make sure children take both doses of the MMR vaccine.

Dr Mary Ramsay, a consultant epidemiologist with the Health Protection Agency, said: 'Public confidence in the MMR vaccine continues to remain high as the uptake for those receiving their first dose has stayed stable.

"However, it is also important to remember that children should complete their full course of MMR vaccine. From January to March 2007, uptake of the MMR vaccine was at 88 per cent for the first dose but only 74 per cent for the second dose. After the first dose, between five per cent and 10 per cent of children are not protected against measles hence two doses of MMR will gives better protection. It also important to remember it is never too late to get vaccinated," warned Ramsey

There have been 465 cases of measles in England, 10 in Wales and five in Scotland, and no cases in Northern Ireland so far this year.

The number of cases in 2006 was the highest number ever recorded since the current method of monitoring began in 1995.

31st August 2007

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