plea after
cases rise
in region

PUBLIC health experts are urging parents to ensure their children are vaccinated after cases of measles more than doubled across North Yorkshire and the Humber.

Since January there have been more than 80 suspected cases of the disease, compared to 29 in the first three months last year. The majority of cases are in North Yorkshire, York and the East Riding and children and young adults, who had not been fully vaccinated with MMR, are said to be the most susceptible.

The director of Public Health England’s North Yorkshire and the Humber Health Protection Team, Dr Autilia Newton, said: “Whilst we are not yet seeing an increase in measles cases on a scale seen in other parts of the UK, we are beginning to see a gradual increase in some parts of North Yorkshire and the Humber.

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“Once measles begins to circulate in communities, the illness spreads very easily and this is why it is important for families to check their children are up-to-date with their MMR immunisations now.”

Nationally, cases of the disease, which can be fatal, continue to be at their highest level since 2004. Experts are urging parents to ensure their children have had two doses of the MMR vaccine. Those who have not had a jab, or who have had just one dose, can still be vulnerable to the virus.

Because it is so infectious, people with symptoms are advised not go the GP’s or hospital. They can include “cold-like” symptoms, red eyes, fever and greyish white spots in the mouth and throat, turning to a red-brown spotty rash, usually starting behind the ears.

Dr Newton said: “As measles is extremely infectious, anyone who is affected by symptoms of measles in the community at any time should not go straight to the hospital A&E department or to a GP surgery. Instead, advice should be sought from GPs by telephone so that arrangements can be made to attend surgery, if necessary, in a way which will prevent spreading infection to others. It is very important that anyone affected by symptoms stays at home until at least five days after the rash starts, to avoid infecting others.

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“Where measles occurs, complications can be quite common and can include severe coughs and breathing difficulties, ear and eye infections and pneumonia. In rare cases, measles can cause serious complications affecting the brain and nervous system, and even deaths on rare occasions.”