Measles cases at 18-year high as children are left unvaccinated
Almost 70 per cent of cases were in children under 18
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Friday 08 February 2013
Parents were urged not to delay vaccinating their children against measles last night after infections soared to an 18-year high.
There were 2,016 confirmed cases of the disease in 2012, twice the number in the previous year and the highest total since 1994, the Health Protection Agency said. Although the illness is mild in most cases it can cause serious complications, including meningitis, brain damage and death. Almost 70 per cent of cases were in children under 18 and the majority were under five.
Vaccination against MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) fell in the late 90s and early 2000s following the scare about its supposed link with autism. The link was never proved and the research on which it was based has been discredited but the vaccination rate has been slow to recover.
Last year’s record total was driven by two prolonged outbreaks in the North-west and South-east. In the first half of the year the disease spread through pre-school children in Cheshire and Mersey-side, followed by clusters in schools and nurseries across the North-west.
In Sussex, the outbreak started in 2011 in the Steiner community, which rejects vaccination, and continued amongst unvaccinated children in 2012. Smaller outbreaks have occurred among travelling communities.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the HPA, said : “MMR coverage is now at historically high levels but measles is highly infectious and can spread easily among poorly-vaccinated communities, and can affect anyone susceptible, including toddlers, in whom vaccination has been delayed.”
Dr Ramsay said older children who were not vaccinated during the scare a decade ago and were now approaching their teens were at particular risk of becoming exposed while at school. “They are the ones we need to find,” she said.
MMR vaccine is given in two shots – the first between 12 and 15 months and the second around age four, before the child starts school. Latest figures show 89 per cent of children had received both shots by age five, when they started school.
- 3 Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...