Measles outbreak hits Wigan hard

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WIGAN has been one of the worst areas affected by the measles outbreak.

There were 149 confirmed cases of the illness in the region last year compared to just 21 in 2011, according to statistics from the Health Protection Agency.

The surge is believed to be continuing this year – with 37 more cases already seen in 2013.

The worst affected parts of the region so far this year have been Wigan, Stockport and Bolton.

Dr Paul Turner (pictured, right), Consultant in Public Health for the Borough of Wigan, said: “Measles can be a very serious disease as is evident from the report about measles in the region where about a quarter of cases were hospitalised. Within Wigan borough we are seeing an increasing number of cases of measles.”

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 and four months.

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.