Measles outbreak warning

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WIGANERS who have not had their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations are being urged to do so.

The plea from health authorities comes against the backdrop of a measles outbreak in the North West.

Since the start of 2012, 440 cases have been confirmed in the region although the vast majority of the outbreaks have been in Merseyside. Greater Manchester has had only 15 confirmed cases with Wigan borough accounting for just two.

According to the Health Protection Agency, the Ashton, Wigan and Leigh area was amongst the highest in the country for the number of children before the age of two having their first dose of the MMR vaccine.

But a HPA spokesperson warned that teens and young adults that missed out on being vaccinated when they were children remain at risk.

Measles can be passed on from spending as little as 15 minutes in the same room as a person with the virus. Anyone who is unsure as to whether they have been vaccinated are asked to contact their GP to confirm.

Dr Rosemary McCann, Interim Director from the Greater Manchester Health Protection Unit said: “I can’t stress enough the importance of parents in Wigan making sure their children have both doses of the MMR vaccine, which gives children life-long protection.

“Parents of young children clearly value the protection that MMR provides but there are still too many children, teenagers and young adults who are not vaccinated who remain vulnerable. It’s not too late for these groups. They should speak to their GP practice staff and arrange to be vaccinated now, especially with the new educational year fast approaching for students.

“It’s more important than ever to make sure vaccinations are fully up to date.”

Merseyside is suffering from the worst measles outbreak in the area since 1988 with 413 of the North West’s confirmed cases in Cheshire and Merseyside. Cumbria and Lancashire have had 12 cases.

A further 173 cases are still under investigation which means figures could still increase.

There have been no deaths reported as a result of the current outbreak in the North West although some cases have resulted in serious illness requiring intensive care.