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Measles outbreaks on the rise

The MMR debacle has fuelled outbreaks of measles across the UK, new figures reveal.

The Health Protection Agency released figures showing there were 449 cases in England and Wales in the first five months of this year, compared with just 438 for the whole of 2003 – the previous peak.

In Scotland there have been 24 cases so far, compared with just one in the whole of 2005, figures from Health Protection Scotland show.

The outbreaks are the worst since monitoring began in 1995, with areas with low uptake and travelling communities hit hardest.

In a bid to improve MMR uptake in areas where it is particularly low, local health protection units are working with PCTs on intensive awareness campaigns, including domestic visits by nurses to families who have not been vaccinated.

Dr Mary Ramsay, consultant epidemiologist at the HPA, said confidence in the MMR vaccine was improving. She urged GPs to remind parents it was not too late to get children immunised.

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