Warning over continued measles outbreak

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ST Helens is one of the worst areas to be affected by the measles outbreak, health chiefs say.

There were 35 confirmed cases of the illness in the town last year compared to none in 2011, according to statistics from the Health Protection Agency.

The surge is believed to be continuing this year – with two cases seen already in 2013.

However, St Helens isn’t the worse affected area of Merseyside. Liverpool saw 313 cases last year and has already reported 11 in 2013.

Liz Gaulton, director of public health and local NHS, said: “In 2012, Merseyside was one of the worst hit areas for measles and we have already had two cases confirmed this year.

“Measles is often associated with being a disease of the past. Many people are unaware that it is a dangerous infection that can have serious complications.

“In severe cases measles can kill, as it spreads very easily and can affect anyone who is not protected. If you or your children are invited to attend a measles vaccination session, please make sure you attend to ensure you are fully protected against the threat of measles.

“If you or your child haven’t completed the measles vaccination course, or you are at all concerned or have any questions, please contact your local Doctors surgery.”

Outbreaks elsewhere in the country have put medics on alert for people displaying symptoms of the condition, which in some cases can be fatal.

Although often seen as a minor condition, there is no cure for measles once it has been contracted and hundreds have already been hospitalised elsewhere in the country.

It can be vaccinated against by children being up to date with their MMR immunisations as the Health Protection Agency (HPA) say the disease is mainly spreading among unvaccinated schoolchildren.

Parents are being urged to make sure their children have the required two doses of the MMR vaccine - the first at 12 months and the second dose at around three years.

The popularity of the jab dropped after it was wrongly linked to autism and bowel disease in the 1990s.

Now health chiefs are urging families to get their children vaccinated – and asking parents to be on the look-out for symptoms.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness – and it can prove deadly.

Children, students and pregnant women are most vulnerable, although it can affect anyone.

It is passed from human to human and is usually spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The early signs include fever, a cough, sore eyes and a red rash.