This site is intended for health professionals only

Surge in number of measles cases

Britons are being urged to get immunised against measles after a surge in the number of cases of the disease.

A total of 334 cases of measles were confirmed in England and Wales in the first quarter of the year, according to figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

The number of people to have been struck down with measles from the beginning of the year until the end of April is already approaching the total amount in 2010 when 374 people caught the disease.

A significant outbreak in Europe has contributed to the inflated figure, with more than 6,500 cases being recorded by the World Health Organisation in 33 countries by mid-April. France has been the worst hit with almost 5,000 cases alone.

Under-25s have been the most badly affected age group in England and Wales while London and the South East, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber, were the worst hit areas.

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."

Copyright © Press Association 2011