One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Cambridgeshire: Rise In Measles Cases
Young people across Cambridgeshire are to be offered catch-up MMR jabs, to try and curb a rise in Measles cases.
Figures from Public Health England show there have been 14 recorded cases of Measles so far this year.
That is higher than the total number recorded in Cambridgeshire during the whole of last year.
It is also the highest number out of any county in East Anglia.
However no cases have yet been reported in Peterborough.
What is Measles?
Measles is a 'highly infectious' viral illness, which can lead to serious complications and can even be fatal.
How is Measles caused?
Measles is caused by infection with the rubeola virus.
How does Measles spread?
The virus spreads when infected people cough and sneeze - it is contained in the tiny droplets.
People become infected by breathing in the droplets or by touching a surface that has been contaminated with such droplets and then touching their noses or mouths.
The national picture.
Nationally, there were 587 recorded cases of Measles for the three months to the end of March, following a record annual high of around 2,000 cases.
Cases are distributed across England, with the highest totals in the North West and North East where there have been outbreaks of the disease.
Experts believe the rise in measles cases can be mostly attributed to the proportion of unprotected 10-16 year olds, who missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s and early 2000s when concern around the discredited link between autism and the vaccine was widespread.
After many years of low vaccination uptake, measles became re-established in 2007.
Public health advice.
Doctor Gina Radford, Anglia and Essex Public Health England Centre Director, said: "Measles is a potentially fatal but entirely preventable disease so it is very disappointing that cases have recently increased in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.
The catch-up programme set out today recommends an approach to specifically target those young people most at risk, particularly the 10-16 year old age group.
We would advise those who have not been vaccinated to seek at least one dose of MMR vaccination which will give them 95 per cent protection against measles.
A second dose is then needed to provide almost complete protection.
The only way to prevent measles outbreaks is to ensure good uptake of the MMR across all age groups, and that when cases are reported, immediate public health action is taken to protect vulnerable individuals as soon as possible.
Measles is not a mild illness - it is unpleasant and can lead to serious complications as we have seen with more than 100 children in England being hospitalised so far this year.
It is never too late to get vaccinated against measles.
We would urge parents of unvaccinated children, teenagers and young adults who have missed out on MMR to arrange to be vaccinated by their GP.
If you are unsure whether you or your child has had two doses of the vaccine, speak to your GP who will have a record."
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