Measles outbreak is ‘under control’

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HEALTH chiefs are confident that the measles outbreak in the borough is under control after only a further six confirmed cases have been reported.

This brings the total number of cases this year up to 99 - scores more than in any other part of Greater Manchester.

Paul Turner, consultant in public health for Wigan Council, said: “In the last week we’ve had six new confirmed cases of measles in Wigan Borough. That means we’ve now had 99 cases in 2013.

“The number of new cases appears to be stable. We’re hopeful the national MMR catch-up campaign currently underway, and the work we’ve been doing in the borough to immunise school children, will keep the spread of the infection under control.

“I’d still urge parents whose children have missed their routine MMR immunisations to contact their doctor immediately. Children who have never had the MMR vaccine will be at risk of catching measles at any time.”

Statistics show that 366 children now aged between 10-14 (10 per cent of those eligible) did not have BOTH MMR vaccinations by their fifth birthday (according to the 2006 statistics) putting them at great risk of catching measles. Experts recommend that children have their first MMR vaccination jab within a month of their first birthday followed by a booster injection before their fifth birthday.

Health chiefs have said that the number of 10-16 year olds who missed out on the controversial MMR vaccination in the late 1990s and early 2000s is behind the epidemic which has hit the borough. Swansea in South Wales which has seen one fatality and hundreds of cases.

Last week it was revealed that outbreaks, such as the one in the borough, are putting Europe’s commitment to eliminate the disease by 2015 under threat, the World Health Organization has warned. 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.

Complications are quite common even in healthy people, and can include ear infections, vomiting and diarrhoea, pneumonia, meningitis and serious eye disorders.