Increase in reported measles cases in Kent

There has been a increase in the number of reported cases of measles in Kent.

In 2010 there were seven cases of the disease in the county, while in the first three months of 2011 19 cases have already been reported.

In Sussex and Surrey, there have been 20 cases reported in 2011 in the three months up to April compared with 46 throughout 2010.

Now the Health Protection Agency (HPA) is urging parents to protect their children with two vaccinations.

'Nasty illness'

The measles, mumps and rubella immunisation (MMR) is routinely given in the UK to children at the age of 13 months and again at three-and-a-half years.

Dr Graham Bickler, HPA regional director, said: "Measles can be a nasty illness with potential for complications including meningitis and encephalitis and on rare occasions, measles can kill.

"It is not too late to be vaccinated and anyone who has not previously had two doses of MMR vaccine should arrange it now."

Measles is caught through direct contact with an infected person, or through the air when someone coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms of the illness include a runny nose, cough, fever and a rash.

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