Public Health Wales and Hywel Dda University Health Board are reminding parents and young adults of the importance of MMR vaccine following an outbreak of measles in Carmarthenshire.
There have been nine cases of confirmed measles infection in the Carmarthenshire area in the last month, six of whom are directly linked to an individual who contracted the infection at the Green Gathering festival in Chepstow.
Since the beginning of July, there have also been measles cases in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Powys and some cases are very close to the border of Ceredigion.
All cases have links to festivals in England and Wales, leading Public Health Wales to issue warnings over the summer that people should not attend big events without checking they and their children are up to date with MMR vaccination.
Dr Brendan Mason, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales, said: “After not seeing cases of measles in Wales for some time, we’re concerned that we now have an outbreak which includes seeing the disease being passed on beyond household settings.
“It is important that those that have not received two doses of the MMR vaccine get vaccinated so that they are protected from this preventable disease.
“People who are not vaccinated not only risk catching measles themselves, but could also pass it to babies too young to have received MMR and who are at risk of serious complications.
“Measles is very contagious and can easily be passed between strangers in the community. It is possible that a very small number of recent cases may have contracted the infection in the public waiting area at Glangwili Hospital A&E.
“This has led to warnings that anyone who suspects they have measles should phone their GP for advice before attending hospital.
“Anyone who has a rash that could be measles is urged not to attend any public place where unvaccinated people could be present, but to seek advice from their GP or NHS Direct Wales.”
Hywel Dda University Health Board’s Director of Public Health Teresa Owen added: “We want to assure the public that we are being vigilant and taking all appropriate infection control measures in respect of this outbreak.
“We urge our community and staff to also be vigilant and to ensure they and their family members are up-to-date on MMR vaccinations and are aware of the symptoms to look out for.”
Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral disease that can cause complications and can even prove fatal. The illness starts with cold or flu-like symptoms, followed by a rash after 2-4 days.
Crowds of people provide the perfect environment for infectious diseases like measles to circulate, but two doses of the safe and effective MMR vaccine offers protection.
Many people who catch measles will have a fever, cough, red eyes, and blocked nose and feel generally unwell. The blotchy rash appears a few days later beginning on the face and spreading downwards to the rest of the body over several days.
If you have not received two doses of MMR and attend large events where hundreds of people are present, you are at risk of contracting measles. People around you may not have any symptoms, but could still be infectious.
Vaccination is free on the NHS by arranging an appointment with your GP, and it’s never too late to catch up on missed doses.
Children should receive their first dose of the vaccine at 12 months of age and the second at around three years and four years of age, but older children and adults can receive the vaccination at any time.