Published: 1 November
Public Health Wales is urging parents to ensure their children are up to date with the MMR vaccine as it investigates an outbreak of measles in young children in Cardiff.
Seven children across Cardiff have been confirmed as having measles over the past six weeks. Public Health Wales is working with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Cardiff Council to ensure contact tracing has taken place and appropriate advice given to those who may be susceptible to infection.
The first dose of MMR is usually given to babies at 12 months of age and the second just after three years of age, but it is never too late to catch up on missed doses. Parents of children who have not yet reached the age to receive their second dose don’t need to take any action.
Measles symptoms include a distinctive red or brown rash that may be more difficult to see on darker skin. The rash follows a fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes (conjunctivitis), and children with these symptoms should be kept home from school, nursery or other childcare settings, and away from vulnerable people.
The rash typically starts on the head and spreads down the body. If parents feel they need medical advice they should contact their GP, visit 111.wales.nhs.uk, or call NHS 111 Wales as they normally would, but take care to alert them of the symptoms before attending any appointment.
Sion Lingard, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said: “Links have been found between all seven cases so while there is currently no evidence of wider community transmission, measles is an extremely contagious infection and we are concerned that people who are not protected by vaccination could be at risk. It can be expected that more cases may be identified over the coming weeks.
“Measles is highly infectious and the only way to prevent outbreaks is through vaccination. We urge parents whose children have not received two doses of MMR as offered to ensure that they speak to their GP surgery to arrange this quick, safe and effective vaccine. If children are not yet old enough to receive their second dose, they don’t need to have this earlier than scheduled.”
Adults who have never had measles or the MMR vaccine and who are in close contact with children are also urged to ensure they speak to their GP about vaccination.
Those that have not received two doses of MMR may be withdrawn from in person contact with vulnerable settings such as schools or nurseries if they are identified as a contact of a case of measles due to the high risk of them being infected.
The MMR vaccine is recommended by the World Health Organization, Welsh Government and NHS Wales as the most effective and safe way to protect children against measles.
Complications due to measles infection are common, with one in ten children requiring hospitalisation due to severe complications such as pneumonia and meningitis. Sadly for every 1000 cases of measles, there is at least one reported fatality due to the complications of the infection.
Further information on measles is available here.