North Devon doctors issue warning of measles risk

Parents advised to immunise children to prevent infection

DOCTORS in North Devon are warning parents that failing to vaccinate their children with the triple measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine could leave them exposed to the complications of measles.

The advice follows confirmation that measles is circulating in Barnstaple, with children in local schools being the most affected.

The Park Community School has a confirmed case in a child, and four further suspected cases and there is a similar suspected case ay Yeo Valley Primary School.

Doctors have sent a letter for schools to give to parents advising immunisation as the most effective way of reducing their risk of contracting the disease.

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Dr Virginia Pearson, director of public health for Devon, said: “We know that the measles virus is circulating in North Devon and so far the people affected have not been immunised or only partially immunised with the MMR vaccine.

“Measles can spread quickly and easily, especially in close knit communities such as schools and community facilities which is why it is so important that children are properly immunised.”

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Dr Mark Kealy, of Health Protection Agency South West (South), added: “Measles is potentially a very serious illness which can be fatal in certain groups with suppressed immunity like newborn babies, pregnant women (and the unborn baby), persons with leukaemia, HIV/AIDS or patients on cancer and organ transplant drugs.

“We want to encourage parents in these communities to ensure their children are up to date with MMR vaccinations. By getting your children immunised you will protect them and other more vulnerable people in the community who could become seriously ill if they catch the disease.

“Measles should not be taken lightly as you can never tell when you have passed it on to someone in whom it would cause serious, maybe fatal, disease.

“It is important to remember that measles isn’t a ‘harmless’ childhood disease for some and this is why we are urging parents to make sure that their children are fully immunised and have had both doses of the MMR vaccine.

“It is never too late to get your child vaccinated. If they’ve missed out on MMR in the past it’s always possible for them to catch-up. Just contact your local GP.”

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