Go to Main Website

Health - Measles cases at 14-year high


Measles cases in England and Wales have topped 1,000 in a year for the first time since 1995. Figures released by the Health Protection Agency show that in the first 10 months of 2008 there were 1,049 cases, more than in the whole of 2007. The Agency said measles was spreading more easily because of the low uptake of the combined MMR jab over the past decade.

Public health experts say the growing number of children who are unprotected – about three million or one in four – means there is a real risk of an epidemic. This could lead to between 30,000 and 100,000 cases of measles in England alone.

Dr Mary Ramsay, an immunisation expert at the Health Protection Agency, said, “Over the last few years we have seen an unprecedented increase in measles cases and we are still receiving reports of cases across the country. The 1,049 figure is the highest number of measles cases recorded in England and Wales since the current method of monitoring the disease was introduced in 1995. This rise is due to relatively low MMR vaccine uptake over the past decade and there are now a large number of children who are not fully vaccinated with MMR.

“This means that measles is spreading easily among unvaccinated children. There is now a real risk of a large measles epidemic. These children are susceptible to not only measles but to mumps and rubella as well.”