Significant drop in measles cases

By James Gallagher
Health and science reporter, BBC News

Measles jab

There was a sharp fall in the number of cases of measles in England at the end of 2013, figures from Public Health England show.

Twenty four people were infected between October and December, in sharp contrast to the hundreds of cases each month at the beginning of the year.

The fall has been put down to efforts to get more children vaccinated with the MMR jab.

However, the number of cases of mumps has increased slightly.

A drop in the number of children being vaccinated, due to the MMR-scare a decade ago, led to a resurgence in measles infections in 2012 and 2013.

Back in 2010 there were just 380 cases all year in England.

Outbreaks in the north-west and north-east of England led to 2,030 cases in 2012 and 1,413 last year.

There was also a large outbreak of measles in Wales with more than 1,200 reported cases.

However, after the summer of 2013 the cases fell significantly and to very low levels in last three months of 2013.

There were 24 cases in England and previous figures showed 25 cases in Wales and two in Northern Ireland.

Child with mumpsA child with mumps

Public Health England said there were 3,524 cases of mumps in 2013 – a marked increase on the 2,476 case the previous year.

The head of immunisation at Public Health England, Dr Mary Ramsay, said: “Measles is a potentially fatal, but entirely preventable, disease so we are delighted that measles cases have recently decreased.

“The best way to prevent measles outbreaks is to ensure good uptake of the MMR vaccine across all age groups, so it’s heartening to see the success the catch-up programme had in ensuring 95% of 10 to 16 year olds in England received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“Although mumps has increased a little from the same quarter of last year, the numbers remain much lower than the levels seen in 2004/5, when outbreaks were reported in several universities.”

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