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Saturday, 29 June, 2002, 00:09 GMT 01:09 UK
Measles cases rising sharply
Health officials recommend the MMR jab
There has been a fall in take-up of MMR
Cases of measles have been rising rapidly in England and Wales, with 126 children contracting the disease in the first three months of this year, data has shown.

Health experts have blamed the rise on poor take-up of the controversial measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination.

Measles rise
126 cases in Jan-Mar 2002
Four times as many as in previous three months
More than usually seen in an entire year
Linked to low MMR take-up

Four times as many cases were confirmed in the first three months of 2002 as in the previous quarter, the Public Health Laboratory Service figures have shown.

The number of cases is more than experts would expect to see across a whole year.

Of the victims, which were mostly children, 91 were from London. More than half of these were the result of two outbreaks which began in south London just before Christmas.

MMR jabs down

The PHLS said the majority of the children who developed the disease in these outbreaks had not had the three-in-one MMR jab.

The proportion of children who have been given the MMR jab remains lower in London than anywhere else in the UK.

MMR take-up
Government target 95%
Recent take-up 70%
The most recent data show that MMR take-up has fallen to about 70% in England and Wales - well below the government's target of 95%.

The low take-up of the vaccine has been blamed on "media hysteria" over a suspected link between the jab and cases of autism and Crohn's disease.

A report released on Thursday suggested that more than 10% of cases of autism in UK children could be linked to MMR.

This study was, however, at odds with another recent report - a review of previous worldwide research - which found no evidence of a link.

Epidemic warning

Doctors in London have been predicting a measles epidemic of the potentially fatal disease within the next two years.

Experts say MMR can protect 90% of all children who have had the first vaccination, while the second dose can protect 99%.

Last December the government pledged 2.5m towards further research into the causes of autism.

But current advice remains that MMR is the best way to protect children against measles, mumps and rubella.


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27 Jun 02 | Health
20 Jun 02 | England
16 May 02 | Health
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