Health chief quizzed over measles cases

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ONE of Wigan’s top health chiefs took part in an online question and answer session to allay fears over the recent upsurge in cases of measles.

Dr Kate Ardern - Wigan borough’s executive director of public health - answered a range of questions about the condition on a Twitter debate hosted by Wigan Council.

The move came after it was revealed that the number of confirmed cases in the borough rose to 93 and while health experts say there is no need to panic, they do want to ensure everybody is aware of steps they can take to minimise the chances of contracting the virus and spreading it further.

Dr Ardern answered questions regarding the MMR vaccine, in particular, among very young children. On the subject of the vaccine, Dr Ardern tweeted: “We don’t recommend single vaccines as we offer the safe & very effective MMR free which protects against 3 serious diseases.”

She also said that measles symptoms “start with non-specific symptoms of cough, runny nose & fever (can be very high) then 3-4 days later classic red rash appears”.

The hour-long question and answer session came after it was revealed that over the past few months cases of measles were far higher in Wigan than in neighbouring areas of Greater Manchester.

Dr Paul Turner, another of the borough’s public health consultants, said: “At present, the number of new cases of measles each week is stable.

“However, there is no cause for complacency. We urge parents that have children that are not fully immunised with two doses of MMR vaccine to contact their general practice to arrange immunisation.

“Priority will be given to children that have never had MMR immunisation and, therefore, I ask parents to be patient. Parents of high school age children should not wait for an immunisation session at their child’s high school as this could delay their child’s protection.

“We have arranged immunisation sessions in two high schools this week.

“We will arrange further sessions over the next few weeks.

“Separate immunisation clinics will be opened if the number of new cases of measles starts to accelerate.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely. We are responding in a planned, systematic and proportionate manner.”

For more information visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles.