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.
South Korea ferry: Sewol captain says he is 'sorry to the people of South Korea' and that he delayed evacuating ship in case passengers 'drifted away'
Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Wreckage could be found within a week as search reaches 'very critical juncture', says minister
Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
Royal Tour 2014: Is the Duchess of Cambridge the only person ever to climb into a fighter jet wearing a dress and high heels?
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
- 2 'Natural' energy drink banned for containing erectile dysfunction drug
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 Kingdom Tower: Construction of 1km high new world’s tallest building to begin next week in Saudi Arabia
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...