TWO new cases of measles have brought to 12 the number of people affected in an outbreak in the Newport and Torfaen areas.
Among the new cases are people who visited healthcare settings while they were infectious, prompting public health experts to again warn that people with measles symptoms should not go into public waiting rooms.
Public Health Wales has written to people who may have been exposed to measles while in these areas, to advise them of the risk.
The Gwent area outbreak has been caused by the same strain of measles that has affected more than 14,000 people across Europe this year and which has killed 35 people.
Children with measles symptoms – which include a high temperature, cough, runny nose, red eyes (conjunctivitis), and a distinctive red rash – should be kept home from school, nurseries and social events such as holiday clubs and birthday parties.
Public Health Wales is also urging parents not to take children who appear to have symptoms of measles to their GP surgery, A&E department, or hospital – where they could put other people at risk – without calling ahead first.
Parents who suspect their child has measles should contact their GP or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 for an assessment. They should alert their health care providers of the symptoms before attending any appointment.
“We are again contacting people who spent time in healthcare waiting rooms at the same time as people with measles, to advise them of the risk that they may have been infected,” said Dr Rhianwen Stiff, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales.
“We have already seen cases of measles in this outbreak that were passed between people in a waiting room, which shows how quickly measles can spread without needing to know someone who is infected very well or be in very close contact with them.
“We continue to urge parents not to take their children to any healthcare setting if they suspect they might have measles, but to phone ahead.
“Parents are also reminded that two doses of the MMR vaccine offer the only protection against measles, which can prove very serious and even fatal, and that it is never too late to catch up on missed doses.”
A rolling programme of vaccination sessions has already been completed in schools across Newport in response to the outbreak, with 1,089 children receiving immunisation.
Measles is highly infectious and the only way to prevent large outbreaks is through vaccination. Parents whose children are not up to date with two doses of MMR should ensure that they contact their GP practice to arrange this quick, safe and effective vaccine.
Adults born since 1970, who have never had measles or the MMR vaccine, are also urged to ensure they contact their surgery about vaccination, especially if they work with children.
The first dose of MMR is usually given to babies at between 12 and 13 months of age, and the second at three years and four months of age, but it is never too late to catch up on missed doses.
About 1 in 5 children with measles can experience serious complications such as ear infections, pneumonia or meningitis. One in 10 children with measles ends up in hospital and in rare cases it can be fatal.
Further information on measles, including a link to a video testimony from a mother whose three year old unvaccinated daughter contracted measles, is available at http://www.publichealthwales.org/measles