Number of measles cases in county falls

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Measles cases have fallen slightly in West Sussex but health officials are still urging people to get vaccinated against the disease.

Figures released by Public Health England (formerly the Health Protection Agency) show in the last quarter, which is measured from January to March this year, that just two people were diagnosed with the virus.

In the same quarter last year, eight people were diagnosed with the disease.

Nationally there were 2,016 cases of the disease in 2012.

There were 330 confirmed cases of measles across Sussex during 2012 with 45 cases in West Sussex. Although cases have fallen in West Sussex, Public Health England said the national trend still showed cases were increasing and the organisation is urging people to be vaccinated. It has set up a catch-up programme to target those at risk.

Dr Graham Bickler, director of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex PHE Centre, said: “Measles is a potentially fatal but entirely preventable disease. The catch-up programme set out today recommends an approach to specifically target those young people most at risk.

“Those who have not been vaccinated should urgently seek at least one dose of MMR vaccination which will give them 95 per cent protection against measles. A second dose is then needed to provide almost complete protection.

“The only way to prevent measles outbreaks is to ensure good uptake of the MMR across all age groups Measles is not a mild illness - it is very unpleasant and can lead to serious complications. It is never too late to get vaccinated against measles. Parents of unvaccinated children, teenagers and young adults who have missed out on MMR should urgently arrange to be vaccinated by their GP. If you are unsure whether you or your child has had two doses of the vaccine, speak to your GP who will have a record.”

Experts believe the rise in measles cases can be mostly attributed to unprotected 10-16 year olds, who missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s and early 2000s. For more information visit www.facebook.com/getvaccinatedEngland