Stretford , Urmston , Trafford Photographer

Warning: Measles Outbreak Strikes Across UK

Britain is facing a measles outbreak with nearly more cases reported in the first three months of this year than the whole of 2010.

The rise has sparked health officials to urge eveyone to ensure they are immunised against the potentially deadly infection.

Data from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) revealed 334 confirmed cases of measles to the end of April in England and Wales – compared with 374 in all of last year.

London was the worst affected area, with 104 cases, while the North East of England and Wales fared best with no cases reported.

Small outbreaks have been noted in universities, schools and within individual families while some people caught the disease abroad as Europe faced a surge in measles cases.

In mid-April, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned of more than 6,500 cases of measles in 33 countries, with France being worst-hit with almost 5,000 cases.

In England and Wales, the under-25s were most affected in the first three months of the year. The vast majority had not had the vaccine against the disease.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of the HPA’s immunisation department, said immunisation was important.

“Although MMR coverage has improved over the last few years, we cannot stress enough that measles is serious and, in some cases, it can be fatal,” she said.

“Measles is a highly infectious and potentially dangerous illness which spreads very easily.

“Whether you stay here in the UK or travel abroad, it is crucial that individuals who may be at risk are fully immunised.”

The most recent UK figures for uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab, covering September to December 2010, showed 89.4% of children had received their first dose by the age of two.

By age five, 84.8% of children had received their second dose.

Both are slightly up on previous figures.