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Fears city could experience second measles outbreak
10:04am Saturday 21st April 2012 in News
Fears are growing that Brighton and Hove could experience a second serious outbreak of measles.
There have been 37 confirmed cases of the virus in the city so far this year, compared to just over 40 for the whole of 2011.
The rapidly rising numbers have sparked concerns of a repeat of the outbreak in 2009 which affected more than 100 adults and children.
There are fears more cases could emerge as children returned to school this week.
Health bosses are urging people to get their children vaccinated with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to reduce the risk of infection.
There have been ten cases in West Sussex and 11 in East Sussex this year, including recent reports in the Lewes area.
The county as a whole had 172 cases of the disease in 2011 and experts say the virus appears to have established itself in the community.
Most cases are affecting school-age children who have not had both doses of the MMR vaccine although younger children and babies who have not been vaccinated yet are also at risk.
The poor take-up of the MMR vaccine is being blamed for the outbreak, with Brighton and Hove's rate standing at about 85%.
The city has one of the lowest take-up rates for the vaccine in the South East although the figure is improving.
Many parents choose not to give it to their children because of the now discredited link between the vaccine and autism.
The World Health Organisation recommends that 95% of a community needs to be vaccinated to offer the best possible protection against a disease.
David Hagen, consultant in communicable diseases for the Health Protection Agency's Sussex and Surrey unit, said: “Cases are being found in different parts of the community rather than in a specific area.
“The county is reflecting a national pattern and it is obviously something of concern to us.
“We would urge people to make sure their children have the MMR vaccine as soon as possible.”
NHS Sussex public health consultant Peter Wilkinson said: “We need to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.”
For the full story see today's Argus.