Measles cases in England 'almost double'

Behind the Headlines

Friday August 24 2012

The HPA reports a significant rise in cases of measles and rubella

“Measles cases 'almost double' after outbreaks”, BBC News has reported. The BBC attributes the rise, in part, to recent outbreaks in Sussex and Merseyside.

In a balanced report, the BBC cites new infectious disease statistics from the Health Protection Agency (HPA), that it says also show that rubella (German measles) infections are higher than in any of the previous 9 years.


What does the HPA say about the number of measles and rubella cases?

The HPA says that in the first six months of 2012 there were 964 cases of measles compared to 497 in the same period in 2011. Overall, 1,086 cases were reported in 2011, up from 380 in 2010.

The HPA says that rubella has also shown an increase, with 57 cases reported between January and June this year – there were previously 64 in the whole of 2002. The number of cases of rubella in the whole of 2012 may well exceed the 2002 figure. The HPA says that the cases have mainly been associated with travel to other European countries.


Is everyone vaccinated against these childhood infections?

The HPA says that the latest published data on the uptake of both doses of the MMR vaccination in England is 93% for the first dose and 87% for the second dose.

It says that coverage has increased dramatically since 2002 (when less than 80% received vaccinations). This means that some older children may not have been protected and may now be catching these infections in the increasing numbers reported.


What advice is the advice for concerned parents?

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the HPA, said: “If you are unsure if your child has had two doses of the vaccination, speak to your GP who will have a record of which vaccinations your child has received.”


Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on twitter.

Analysis by Bazian

Edited by NHS Choices

Links to the headlines

Measles cases 'almost double' after outbreaks. BBC News, August 24 2012

Measles rise prompts MMR reminder. The Guardian, August 24 2012

Measles cases double as doubts over MMR vaccine linger. The Daily Telegraph, August 24 2012

Further reading

Press release

Health Protection Agency: HPA urges back to school vaccination as measles cases continue to increase. Published online, 24 August 2012


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