Football fans heading to the Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine next month have been urged to get measles vaccinations before travelling.
The warning from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) comes in the wake of an outbreak in one of the two host nations. Since the start of 2012, there have been 173 cases of the viral illness in Ukraine, and the HPA believes the “large” outbreak could worsen.
Meanwhile the number of cases seen in the UK is also well up on last year, particularly on Merseyside, according to the HPA. Its latest data reveals there has been a 22% increase in the number of measles cases, taking the total to 446 in 2012. The figure exceeds the 367 diagnosed at the same time last year.
A statement from the HPA said: “Measles is beginning to re-emerge in regions where there were no cases previously or very small numbers with clusters reported from the East of England, the West Midlands and London.”
Commenting on the outbreak in Ukraine, the HPA said: “There have been vaccine shortages in Ukraine since 2010 and more than one million children are unvaccinated, therefore the epidemic is expected to accelerate and spread geographically during the measles peak transmission season from February to June.
“Visitors to the event are encouraged to ensure they are fully vaccinated.”