Measles cases 'to reach five-year high'

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

Experts fear the latest measles outbreak could reach a five-year high after another 16 cases were discovered among the cluster in south London.

Experts fear the latest measles outbreak could reach a five-year high after another 16 cases were discovered among the cluster in south London.

That outbreak has now reached 36 cases, raising fears that the crisis in public confidence in the MMR jab could lead to a measles epidemic.

Last year, there were 50 confirmed cases and 13 in 1998, suggesting the latest clusters will set a new high this year. A second cluster in County Durham has seen five confirmed cases, bringing the total in the first two months of 2002 to over 40.

The link between measles and distrust of the MMR jab was underlined by the low take-up rate of 72.3 per cent in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, where 24 cases have now emerged. Experts warn that an immunisation rate of 95 per cent is required to prevent major epidemics.

Ministers are about to launch another major campaign to reassure parents about MMR, but an expert in public health has warned that the climate of distrust in the triple vaccine would undermine it.

The MMR controversy follows a claimed link with a rising incidence of childhood autism which were made by Dr Andrew Wakefield, then at the Royal Free Hospital in London. His claims have been fiercely contested by other health experts and ministers.

However, Tom Horlick-Jones, a senior research fellow at Cardiff's School of Social Sciences, said restoring public trust in official agencies is likely to be "a very difficult process indeed".

Comments