A measles outbreak is hitting the North East. There have been 46 confirmed cases since September with another 50 suspected. It is a sharp rise on the figure for the whole of the previous year.
The Health Protection Agency says the majority of cases are in children and young people who haven't been vaccinated.
The HPA says there is currently a good take-up of the combined measles, mumps and rubella jab, known as MMR. However, over the past two decades, a significant number of parents decided against the vaccination because of concerns over its safety.
This has left a group of young people, mainly between 10 and 19 years old, who aren't protected against measles.
– Julia Waller, Health Protection Agency
This measles outbreak is very serious and we are likely to see many more cases before it's over. The sad thing is that most, if not all of these cases could have been avoided if people had been up to date with MMR vaccination.
What are the symptoms to look out for?
- Measles begins with a fever, cough and red, watery eyes
- A red-brown spotty rash appears a few days later
- The rash starts on the face and upper neck, before spreading down the body
- The rash starts to fade after about 5 days
The HPA says anyone who has missed out on the MMR jab in the past can receive it, at any age.