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Measles hits record high in Sussex
Sussex is the measles capital of England and Wales.
More than ten percent of all cases across the country have been detected in the county.
By yesterday morning (July 4) there had been 247 cases reported in Sussex this year – 140 in Brighton and Hove, 75 in East Sussex and 32 in West Sussex.
In comparison, during the whole of 2011 there were only 65 reports in Brighton and Hove, 70 in East Sussex and 38 in West Sussex – a total of 173.
There are fears Sussex’s soaring measles figures are caused by parents deliberately not vaccinating their children – in some cases because of fears over the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab and in others because they do not like being told what to do.
This is despite any link between the jab and autism having been dismissed.
One retired Brighton GP, who asked not to be named, said: “These figures are very worrying.
“Once or twice I had patients who had life-threatening complications. People are very individualistic in Brighton and Hove.
“Often they don’t like doctors telling them what to do.
“A large chunk of the population of the city clearly don’t want their children to be vaccinated.”
Quarter of all cases nationally
In one week in June, a quarter of the nation’s cases were reported in the county, Health Protection Agency (HPA) figures reveal – 10% in Brighton and Hove, 12% in East Sussex and 3% in West Sussex.
There were more cases of measles reported in Brighton and Hove than in Manchester, London, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham and Sheffield combined.
In the last week two new cases a day have been reported in the city.
On Monday, July 2 parents of pupils at Blatchington Mill School in Nevill Avenue, Hove, were warned that a fresh outbreak had hit the secondary.
A letter was sent to parents telling them a Year 8 trip to Butlins was cancelled because of “medical advice” and the high number of cases.
Headteacher Jim Browning has written to parents urging them to vaccinate their children.
Dr Angela Iversen, the director of the HPA in the south east, said: “We really would urge parents to make sure their children are protected by contacting their GP surgery and asking for the MMR vaccine.
“It could make the difference between staying healthy and contracting what can be a very serious illness.”
What to look out for:
Symptoms of measles include irritability, a runny nose, conjunctivitis, a hacking cough and an increasing fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Complications include severe cough and breathing difficulties, ear infections and pneumonia.
The most serious problems involve the nervous system. Inflammation of the brain occurs two to six days after the rash has appeared.
One in every 1,000 measles cases are affected in this way – but a quarter of those cases leave the sufferer with brain damage.
The most severe complication of measles can lie undetected for years.
Slowly progressive brain infections start with intellectual impairment and deteriorate to seizures and can lead to death.