Schools in South West Wales perfect breeding grounds for measles
SCHOOLS are a perfect breeding ground for measles, parents have been warned — and it could be a matter of time before the disease kills a child in Swansea.
The stark warning comes after Public Health Wales revealed another 43 cases had been reported in Swansea in the past week, bringing the total number in the area to 252.
Thirty-eight — one in six who have contracted measles in this outbreak — have been hospitalised.
Dr Marion Lyons, director of health protection for Public Health Wales, said: "The continuing spread of the disease in the Swansea area means that it is only a matter of time before we have a child whose health is seriously damaged by measles."
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The virus which causes measles is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when someone with measles coughs or sneezes.
It is caught by breathing in these droplets or, if the droplets have settled on a surface, by touching the surface and then placing your hands near your nose or mouth. The virus can survive on surfaces for a few hours.
It is those properties which make schools such easy breeding grounds, with young children working and playing so close together.
Swansea GP Charlotte Jones said: "Schools are the perfect environment for measles.
"There is close contact between young people, and if one is coughing or spluttering, it is easy for the virus to be passed on."
Although the outbreak is described as being in the Swansea region, advice is also being offered to parents in Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire.
Letters were sent to parents of pupils in Neath Port Talbot at the end of February, and Carmarthenshire Council leader Kevin Madge has joined calls for parents to protect their children from the virus.
He said: "I'd urge all parents in Carmarthenshire to please get their children vaccinated.
"This outbreak is becoming very concerning, and the cases are not too far away from us in the Swansea Valley."
Around 20 per cent of measles cases experience complications including ear infections, vomiting and diarrhoea, pneumonia, meningitis and serious eye disorders.
The MMR vaccine is considered safe, but anyone with concerns is advised to speak to their GP.