Measles hike in Preston

Plea: Dr Ken Lamden
Plea: Dr Ken Lamden
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Parents are urged to make sure their children are immunised against measles as figures reveal that Preston has seen the largest number of cases for years.

Health protection chiefs say they have had reports of around four cases of measles in the city in the last few weeks taking the total number of cases to 14 so far this year.

This is a massive hike on previous years as during the whole of 2011, there were just two cases in Preston and in 2010 there were no cases.

Dr Ken Lamden, the Health Protection Agency’s head of immunisation for Cumbria and Lancashire, said: “There was a huge outbreak of measles in Merseyside at the start of this year and because it is highly infectious, it does spread to other areas.

“Measles can spread rapidly among children who have not been immunised with the MMR vaccine and also to adults who have not had measles.

“The MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, was introduced in 1988, so anyone who is aged around 26 or older will not have been vaccinated.

“The people who are at risk of getting measles are those who have not been vaccinated and adults who have not already had measles.

“People wrongly assume that measles is an illness that has gone away, but it has not and we want to do all we can to stop it spreading.

“We do urge parents to make sure their children have been protected with both doses of the MMR vaccine.

“Measles is highly contagious and can lead to serious complications. But measles is a very preventable infection.”

The first dose of MMR vaccine is generally given to children shortly after their first birthday and the second dose is when the child is three years and four months old.

Measles can lead to serious complications including brain damage, meningitis, pneumonia and heart problems.

It is one of the most serious childhood infections, but it is extremely preventable with vaccination.

The measles virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

It spreads very easily and measles is caused by breathing in these droplets or by touching a surface that has been contaminated with the droplets and then placing your hands near your nose or mouth.

The initial symptoms of measles include cold-like symptoms, red eyes and sensitivity to light and a spotty rash.