Health board issues warning after measles outbreak rises by 300 per cent in Llanelli
PARENTS in Llanelli are being urged to make sure their children are fully protected against measles — after cases have soared by 300 per cent over the last year.
There has already been eight cases of the highly contagious virus reported in the town in 2013, compared with only 15 throughout the entire year in 2012.
And across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, there has now been 23 cases of the life-threatening disease compared to five during the same point in 2012.
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Hywel Dda Health Board is now backing Public Health Wales' plea for parents to ensure children are given two doses of the three-in-one measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine as cases across West Wales continue to rise.
Immediate arrangements should be made with their GP for their children to receive the MMR vaccine if they are not fully protected.
Teresa Owen, Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda Health Board said: "There is an ongoing outbreak of measles in West Wales.
"To control this outbreak we need to vaccinate all children and young adults who have previously not had a full course of Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine.
"We cannot overemphasise the need for children to be vaccinated in order to control this outbreak.
"Even if your child has already had measles in the current outbreak or previously, they still need to have MMR vaccine to get protection against mumps and rubella."
Dr Marion Lyons, Director of Health Protection for Public Health Wales, added that Measles is such an infectious disease that around 90 per cent of unvaccinated people who come into contact with cases will catch it.
She said: "You only need one or two people who haven't had the vaccination to put at risk babies, toddlers and anyone else who is vulnerable, such as children with leukaemia who cannot have the vaccination and pregnant women who haven't been vaccinated.
"We cannot emphasise enough that measles is an illness that can kill, or leave people with permanent complications including severe brain damage. The only protection is the safe and highly effective MMR vaccine."
Parents are advised to check their child's Personal Child Health Record (Red Book) to ensure they are protected.
Appointments should be made immediately with GPs for children to receive an MMR vaccine if they are not fully protected.