3 April 2013
The number of people diagnosed with measles in an area at the centre of an epidemic has passed the 500 mark, Public Health Wales (PHW) says.
Latest figures show there are now 541 cases in and around Swansea.
The figures have gone up by more than 100 in a week and health experts are urging parents to ensure their children receive the MMR vaccine.
The epidemic has also prompted some babies to be offered the jab seven months earlier than recommended.
PHW said that cases continue to be reported across Wales, with the majority in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg, Powys and Hywel Dda health board areas.
It warned that the risk of unvaccinated children coming into contact with those already infected is “increasing every day”.
The measles outbreak centred on Swansea is certainly significant.
Experts in Wales fear it could reach the level of the Dublin outbreak of 1999-2000, when over 1,200 children were affected and three died.
There have been other smaller outbreaks more recently in England, including one last year which was centred around Merseyside.
But in the whole of the north west in 2012 there were just 865 measles cases.
Most of the more than 500 people affected in Wales are school-age children who have not had the MMR jab.
Vaccine uptake in the affected areas is around 89%.
It added that it was “just a matter of time” before a child was left with serious and permanent complications, such as eye disorders, deafness or brain damage, or even dies.
Parents have been urged to use the Easter holidays to get their children vaccinated.
PHW has also taken the more unusual step of allowing babies as young as six months old to have an MMR jab, if their parents live or travel to the epidemic ‘hotspots’ of Swansea or Neath Port Talbot.
Continue reading at BBC News – Measles: Over 500 cases in Swansea epidemic.