Families jetting off on European holidays during the Easter break have been urged to vaccinate their children against measles.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has issued advice to schools in England to make sure children are protected against the illness after an outbreak in mainland Europe.
A spokeswoman for the HPA said several countries including Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands have had increased numbers of measles cases so far this year, as reported by the World Health Organisation.
France reported more than 1,500 cases in 2009, more than 4,500 cases in 2010 and nearly 1,000 cases in January 2011.
Turkey recently reported an outbreak in Istanbul, as well as cases linked to a large outbreak in Bulgaria in 2010.
The spokeswoman said overseas travel is an important factor in the international spread of measles and that HPA health protection units are writing to schools and health professionals in their local area.
She added: “The HPA is issuing advice to schools and health professionals on measles and recommends that children are fully immunised with two doses of MMR before travelling to Europe for holidays.”
The Travel Clinic said the measles virus was causing “huge problems this year”.
It said in a statement: “Two MMR vaccine doses are needed to provide long lasting protection for measles.
“Adults who have only received one dose as a child, or who missed out on MMR, may want to think about getting vaccine now to protect both themselves, and babies under a year old who are also at greatest risk of serious consequences following measles but are too young to receive vaccine themselves.”
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