Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Measles Cases Highest In 18 Years, England

New cases of measles have reached their highest level in 18 years in the England and Wales, many of them young adults and teenagers who were not immunized after the fraudulent 1998 MMR scare. Health authorities say that many young people and children have had to be taken to hospital.
According to the HPA (Health Protection Agency), there were 2,016 confirmed cases in England and Wales last year, the highest total for one year since 1994.

In 2012, there were prolonged outbreaks in Merseyside and Sussex, as well as several minor outbreaks among travelling communities across the country.

Eighty-seven percent of the 7,392 measles cases reported in the EU (European Union) up to the end of November 2012 came from Romania, Spain, Italy, France and the UK.

Head of immunization at the HPA, Dr Mary Ramsay, said:

"Coverage of MMR is now at historically high levels but measles is highly infectious and can spread easily among communities that are poorly vaccinated, and can affect anyone who is susceptible, including toddlers in whom vaccination has been delayed. Older children who were not vaccinated at the routine age, who may now be teenagers, are at particular risk of becoming exposed, while at school for example.

Measles continues to circulate in several European countries that are popular with holidaymakers. Measles is a highly infectious disease so the only way to prevent outbreaks is to make sure the UK has good uptake of the MMR vaccine, and that when cases are reported, immediate public health action is taken to target unvaccinated individuals in the vicinity as soon as possible."

Dr. Ramsay explained that many people are not aware that measles can strike people today, can cause severe disease and even death; they see it as a disease of the past. Parents need to make sure that their children are immunized against rubella, mumps and measles with two doses of the MMR vaccine.

UK health authorities are urging parents whose kids have not been vaccinated to see their GP (general practitioner, primary care physician) to get immunized. Unvaccinated adults should also see their doctor.

Dr. Ramsay said "If you are unsure whether you or your child has had two doses of the vaccine, speak to your GP who will have a record."

The following signs and symptoms are common in people with measles:
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fever
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Red eyes
  • Gray-white spots in the throat and mouth
  • Within a few days a red-brown spotty rash appears on the skin, which usually starts off behind the ears, makes its way around the head and neck, and then spreads to the legs and the rest of the body.

USA - 2011 saw highest number of measles cases in 15 years

In April 2012, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) informed that in 2011 there were more reported cases of measles in the United States than in any of the previous 15 years. Most cases involved foreigners visiting the country or Americans who became infected abroad.

However, the total, at 222 is dwarfed by the current figures coming out of the European Union. One third of all the measles cases in the USA in 2011 had to be hospitalized - however, there were no deaths from the disease that year.

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