Action urged on measles in Cumbria

Young people in Cumbria are being urged to protect themselves against measles after a case of the disease was confirmed in the county at the weekend. Adults and teenagers living or moving to Cumbria are being reminded to check they’re fully vaccinated with both doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

A measles outbreak has been declared already on Merseyside where more than 100 cases have been confirmed and public health experts in Cumbria want to prevent a similar outbreak developing in the county.

Measles is an infectious viral illness that is spread when infected people cough or sneeze.

The most common symptoms are fever, cough, sore eyes and a rash that develops 3-4 days after the onset of illness, starting with the face and head and spreading down the body.

The first dose of MMR vaccine is normally given at age 13 months and the second between the ages of 3 and 4 years, before the child goes to school.

However, children of any age (over one) including teenagers and young adults should still consider vaccination if they missed out at the recommended ages.

Dr Nigel Calvert, Associate Director of Public Health at NHS Cumbria, said: “Measles is highly infectious and anyone who has not previously been vaccinated is at risk when it gets into a community, as it has done here.

“Over the weekend we have seen one confirmed case of measles in the Copeland area.

“While vaccination rates amongst children in Cumbria are currently amongst the highest in the country, there are still a number of teenagers who failed to get protected when they were younger.

“It is not too late and no one, anywhere in Cumbria, should take the risk of catching measles when a safe and effective vaccine is available.”

Anyone who is concerned or wants more information on how to get themselves protected should speak to their GP, Health Visitor or Practice Nurse.

*       Information on MMR vaccine is available at www.immunisation.nhs.uk

*       Information on Measles, Mumps and Rubella is available at www.hpa.org.uk