The death of a 13 year old boy in Britain from measles is the
first fatality from the infection in 14 years and has ignited
concern that the once common killer is back.
Already the number of new measles cases for 2006 has reached
100 well above the 77 cases reported for the whole of last year.
In an outbreak in Doncaster, 32 cases have been confirmed and
36 are still being investigated.
The first infections seemingly developed among children at
the same playgroup who, at less than a year old, were too young
to have had the MMR jab.
The disease has now spread to older children and nearby
The majority of cases reported have been in the travellers
community where vaccine coverage is traditionally low.
Two injections are needed to give complete protection and, of
the 72 confirmed cases, two children had received only the first
But the outbreak highlights concerns about uptake of the MMR
vaccine not just among travellers but the population as a whole.
Immunisation rates in the UK eight years after the first
scare over the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
vaccine, are among the lowest in Western Europe.
What now appears to be unfounded fears that the triple jab
could lead to autism caused take-up to fall from over 90 per
cent in 1998 to less than 80 per cent two years ago.
Currently, 81 per cent of children have the combined vaccine
before they are two; many European countries achieve the 95 per
cent coverage recommended by the World Health Organisation to
The 13 year-old who died was particularly susceptible as
he was being treated for a lung condition.
The boy died of an infection of the central nervous system
caused by a reaction to the measles virus.
The Health Protection Agency has described his death as
shocking and urges parents to have their children vaccinated
Travellers groups have reportedly said they feel excluded
from the healthcare system because the lack of a permanent
address means vaccination reminder notices don't arrive and it
is difficult to make GP appointments.
Despite the widely held belief that measles has been
eradicated in the developed world, France in 2004 had 4,448
cases and Germany had 121.
Complications include severe coughs and breathing
difficulties, ear and eye infections and pneumonia.
There can be serious complications affecting the brain and
More than 1,000 staff at the Central Middlesex Hospital in
northwest London were being vaccinated last night after a
Six nurses were in isolation after catching the disease from
two children recently admitted to the hospital.