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Big increase in SW Wales measles cases


A big increase in measles cases has prompted health bosses to renew a plea for unvaccinated people to get their MMR jabs immediately.

Another 73 cases have now been reported - bringing the total number of those infected in the Swansea area to 693.

Public Health Wales is continuing to urge parents of unvaccinated children across Wales to act immediately to ensure they are protected against the potentially fatal disease.

Further drop-in vaccination clinics are planned this week following emergency clinics held last weekend.

Although more than 2,600 MMR vaccines were received in the Swansea area last week, doctors warn this is not enough to bring the outbreak under control.

Marion Lyons, director health protection at PHW, said at least 6,000 children remain unvaccinated in the south-west Wales county.

“With measles cases at almost 700, with 73 of those reported in the last two days alone, we remain extremely concerned that this outbreak is showing no signs of going away,” she added.

“We are delighted to see parents starting to arrange vaccination for their children but the numbers simply aren’t high enough to bring the outbreak under control when 6,000 children remain at risk from measles in the Swansea area alone.”

Typical symptoms of measles include fever, cough, conjunctivitis and a rash. Complications are quite common even in healthy people, and about 20% of reported measles cases experience one or more complications.

These can include ear infections, vomiting and diarrhoea, pneumonia, meningitis and serious eye disorders.

Before the introduction of the MMR jab in 1988, about half a million children caught measles each year in the UK. Approximately 100 of those died.

However, concerns over the jab’s safety were raised in the late 1990s when a surgeon published a since discredited paper suggesting MMR was linked to an increased risk of autism.

While the latest epidemic is based in Swansea, cases have continued to be reported across Wales.

Most are in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health region, which also includes Neath, Port Talbot and Bridgend.

Cases have also been found in Powys and in the Hywel Dda Health Board area - which covers Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.


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Readers' comments (23)

  • i wonder where its coming from!!!!!!!!

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  • And still the anti vax lobby insist they are in the right. I have heard anti vax parents saying it's the vaccinated kids spreading measles!!!

    Bring on "no school or nursery place unless your kids are vaccinated" very common in other Countries, that will sort out this sort of mess.

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  • Anonymous | 13-Apr-2013 8:18 am

    Measles is highly contagious. 90% of individuals without immunity coming into contact with those who are infected will catch it. Areas with low vaccination uptake will be particularly affected.

    In most healthy children, this isnothing more than an unpleasant respiratory illness (although, why anyone would expose their children to totally preventable harm is beyond me), however, it can have significant complications and result in death for those who are immunocompromised. I worked in sub-Saharin Africa for a couple of years and saw the real devastation this disease causes in those who are undernourished and unvaccinated. Mortality rates in some areas were between 10-30%, mainly due complications of pneumonia.

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  • Anonymous | 14-apr-2013 10:53 am
    WOW! swollowed the dictionary i read something like that in NT newsletters I much prefered the reply 13-apr-2013 7:49pm thankyou all the same

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  • The HPA figures for measles since 1940 are interesting. Considering the vaccination didn't start until much much later it seems other factors reduced the measles cases and death rates. Possibly similar to polio.

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  • Anonymous | 14-Apr-2013 3:51 pm

    Why the sarcasm?

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  • Anonymous | 14-Apr-2013 3:58 pm

    Prior to vaccination in the 1940s and 1950s approx 500 children died annually from measles. In the 1960s, in the early years of vaccination, that reduced to 100 annually. The recent death of a young boy (who was already immuno-compromised), was the first reported death from Measles since 1999.
    Between the 1940s and into the 1970s (after which vaccination uptake had increased), Measles cases annually were between 150,000 and 800,000 cases per year, epidemics occurring every couple of years.

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  • But was vaccination en masse nationally in the late 60's? I'm under the impression it was later in the 80's. I wasn't mmr'd and I left school mid 80's

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  • Anonymous | 14-Apr-2013 6:27 pm

    No. During the sixties, there was about a 50% uptake in vaccination. 87,000 cases of Measles were reported in the year prior to the introduction of MMR in 1988. Before this, Measles was given as a single vaccine. Apparently, approx. 90-95% uptake in vaccination rate is required to effectively knock down the disease. Numbers of cases dropped through the 1980s and 1990s, and then, in 1998, came Wakefield.....

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  • Mmm however the 50s ad 60s saw the highest outbreaks by a long way and that was after vaccination had started. Higher than prior to vaccination at all. By the time of 88 the cases hsd dropped hugely.
    The logic doesn't seem consistent

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