Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 14:20 UK

Measles outbreak continues spread

Measles rash on woman's back
Sixteen of Wales 22 counties now have measles

Wales' measles outbreak, the most serious since the introduction of the MMR vaccine, is continuing to worsen.

Another five cases have been confirmed bring the total number to 286. Thirty four people have had to go to hospital.

For the first time cases have been declared in Merthyr Tydfil in the south and Wrexham in north Wales.

The National Public Health Service (NPHS) for Wales says it estimates up to 45,000 school children are at risk of measles due to their MMR status.

Carmarthenshire, Conwy, and Swansea are the counties with most numbers of cases. Only six counties - Anglesey, Cardiff, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport, and Vale of Glamorgan - have not reported any.

Dr Marion Lyons, Head of the Health Protection Teams for NPHS, said: "With the numbers of cases of measles in Wales continuing to rise on a daily basis and the outbreak now having spread to two more counties, we remain concerned for anyone who has not received two does of the MMR vaccine.

Measles: County-by-county
Anglesey 0
Blaenau Gwent: 3
Bridgend: 24
Cardiff: 0
Caerphilly: 0
Carmarthenshire: 76
Ceredigion: 3
Conwy: 53
Denbighshire: 1
Flintshire: 1
Gwynedd: 1
Merthyr Tydfil: 1
Monmouthshire: 0
Neath Port Talbot: 33
Newport: 0
Pembrokeshire: 31
Powys: 3
Rhondda Cynon Taf: 5
Swansea: 45
Torfaen: 5
Vale of Glamorgan: 0
Wrexham: 1

"The vaccine is safe, effective and the only protection against measles.

Dr Lyons said: "People most at risk of catching measles are children of school age who have not had two doses of MMR or children between the ages of one and three who missed their first MMR does at 13 months."

She added that children should have their immunisation record, including MMR status, checked at the beginning of primary and secondary school and when they leave school.

Many people who catch measles will have a fever, cough, red eyes, and blocked nose and feel generally unwell. The blotchy rash appears a few days later beginning on the face and spreading downwards to the rest of the body over several days.

Typically, people will be infectious from the day before their first symptoms until four to five days after the appearance of the rash.

Highest incidence

The NPHS said anyone whose child had symptoms should contact their GP and keep them away from school and contact their GP or NHS Direct Wales.

The NHPS is also investigating 422 cases of mumps, which the vaccine also guards against, in Wales since January. In 2008, there were 329 mumps cases reported in total.

The NPHS health protection teams are working closely with local health professionals to get children vaccinated.

THE NHS is also distributing Welsh Assembly Government leaflets and DVDs to schools over the coming weeks to raise awareness of measles.

All nurseries, primary and secondary schools in the areas with the highest incidence of measles are receiving DVDs on immunisation.

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