Thursday, 6 December 2012

Action to prevent the spread of measles in Lancashire as cases rise

Parents throughout Lancashire and Cumbria are being urged to ensure that their children are fully protected by MMR vaccine as measles cases continue to be reported in the two counties.

91 cases have been confirmed so far this year, compared to just six in 2011.

“There’s a lot of measles around at present," says Dr. Ken Lamden, a Consultant with the Health Protection Agency's Cumbria and Lancashire Health Protection Unit. "It’s a highly infectious disease that can have serious consequences for some people and anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated is liable to be vulnerable to it.”

Two doses of MMR vaccine give full protection against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). The first dose is given to toddlers at the age of 13 months and the second at approximately 40 months, before the child goes to school.

However, it’s not too late for older children, teenagers and young adults to be vaccinated if they missed out as toddlers. People who aren’t sure if they were vaccinated as children should check with their family doctors, who will give advice and arrange vaccination if appropriate.

“There’s an on-going outbreak of measles just across our border on Merseyside where more than 500 cases have been confirmed by laboratory testing," Dr. Lamden added. "One-third of these patients were ill enough to require inpatient treatment in hospital and a number were seriously ill, a reminder that measles should not be taken lightly.”

The HPA advises people with symptoms of measles to:

• Stay away from school, nursery or work until five days have elapsed after the onset of a rash.
• Telephone your GP or NHS walk-in centre before attending so that arrangements can be made for you to be treated in isolation from other patients.
• Avoid contact with people generally, but particularly babies, pregnant women and anyone who is known to have poor immunity to infection.

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