Outbreak of measles in Wales – report published

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A report on the measles outbreak centred on Swansea has been published with 13 recommendations designed to stop further spread of the disease.

Between November 2012 and July 2013, a total of 1,202 cases of measles were reported in the outbreak, the largest seen in Wales since the introduction of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. Of these, 88 people were admitted to hospital and one 25 year old man died.

The report details how the outbreak unfolded and was brought to an end. It provides information of Public Health Wales laboratory testing showing that there were in fact four different outbreaks, based on four strains of the infection circulating at the same time.

It warns that, while 30,000 people between the ages of 10 and 18 remain unvaccinated in Wales, there is still the chance of further outbreaks.

It has been produced jointly with the three health boards who worked closely with Public Health Wales to control the outbreak – Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Hywel Dda Health Board and Powys teaching Health Board.

The report calls for the elimination of measles in Wales through “a policy of aggressive control of measles cases imported into or transmitted within Wales.”

In particular, it says that “assertive efforts should be made to target” teenagers. It recommends that the Welsh Government should commission a review looking at the issue of teenagers not being immunised, reviewing scientific evidence for what works and identifying areas for further research, if needed.

Dr Sara Hayes, Director of Public Health for ABMU Health Board, said: “I’d like to thank all those who helped bring the outbreak to an end – health board and local authority staff, head teachers, journalists, parents and the public.

“I urge the young people who did not take the vaccine to contact their doctor.  It’s never too late and the outbreak has proved just how safe and effective it is.

“We are currently responding to a further outbreak of measles in the Neath area with 36 cases to date. This shows that, despite the large outbreak being over, measles is still a very real problem in Wales.”

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Public Health Wales

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