New advice for Gloucestershire families after measles outbreak
SOARING numbers of people struck down with measles in Gloucestershire has led health experts to urge people to check their vaccination history.
The latest advice follows 62 confirmed cases in Gloucestershire between October and January.
The number is a significant spike compared to previous years. Less than five confirmed cases of measles were reported in 2011.
More people are being hospitalised because of the illness.
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The message from the Health Protection Agency is for anyone born after 1988, when the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine was first introduced, to check they have received the required two doses to make the vaccine effective.
Dr David Hunt, from the South West Health Protection Unit, said: "It is important to remember that measles isn't a "harmless" childhood disease for some and this is why we have seen hospitalisations in Gloucestershire.
"Thankfully all have now fully recovered and have been discharged. However, these hospitalisations reinforce how important it is to make sure that you and your children are protected. That is why we are urging the community to make sure children are fully immunised and have had both doses of the MMR vaccine."
Measles is caused by a very infectious virus which typically causes rash, cold-like symptoms, cough, red eyes and high fever.
About one in every 15 children with measles will develop more serious complications.
These can include ear and chest infections, fits, diarrhoea, encephalitis - an infection of the brain, and brain damage.
Anyone who needs advice or is not sure about their vaccination history should contact the practice nurse at their GP practice.
MMR vaccination is part of the routine child immunisation programme, one dose is given at 13 months and a second pre-school booster is given before school.
Dr Jeremy Welch, Tewkesbury GP and member of the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group Shadow Board, said people should be vigilant if they recognise the symptoms, as the disease can spread quickly.
"Measles is a highly infectious and potentially dangerous illness which spreads very easily," he said. "If you have missed out on the MMR vaccination in the past it's always possible for a catch-up. Just contact your GP."
Advice for sufferers is to keep away from school, work and hospitals and away from others for five days from when symptoms, such as a rash, first appear.