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Europe measles cases on the rise

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The amount of measles cases reported in the the first three months of 2011 is already close to the number reported for the whole of last year, figures have revealed.

Statistics from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show that by the end of April, there were 334 confirmed measles cases in England and Wales. In all of 2010, there were 374.

A steep rise in cases of measles in Europe may have led to people from the UK catching it abroad, while small outbreaks in this country have been witnessed in schools, universities and among families.

Some 33 countries have more than 6,500 measles cases, with France being affected by more than 5,000 cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned in mid-April.

In England and Wales, the under-25s were most affected in the first three months of the year. The vast majority had not had the vaccine against the disease.

Most cases occurred in London and the South East, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of the HPA’s immunisation department, said: “We again are reminding parents and young adults of the importance of immunisation.

“Although MMR coverage has improved over the last few years, we cannot stress enough that measles is serious and, in some cases, it can be fatal.

“Measles is a highly-infectious and potentially-dangerous illness which spreads very easily.

“Whether you stay here in the UK or travel abroad, it is crucial that individuals who may be at risk are fully immunised.”

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