HPA Publishes Annual Measles Figures For 2008
There were 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales last year according to latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (January to December 2008).
This compares to 990 cases reported in 2007.
Year - Confirmed measles cases
1998 - 56
1999 - 92
2000 - 100
2001 - 70
2002 - 319
2003 - 437
2004 - 188
2005 - 78
2006 - 740
2007 - 990
2008 - 1348
Dr Mary Ramsay, an immunisation expert at the Health Protection Agency, said: "The year on year increase of measles across England and Wales is very worrying. Last year saw the highest number of cases since the current method of monitoring the disease was introduced in 1995.
"What is so alarming is that the majority of these cases could have been prevented as most were in children who were not fully protected with MMR.
"There are still many children out there who were not vaccinated as toddlers over the past decade and remain unprotected. Unfortunately this means that measles, which is highly infectious, is spreading easily among these unvaccinated children.
"We are glad to see that public confidence in the MMR vaccine is now high with more than 8 out of 10 children receiving one dose of MMR by their second birthday. However, children who weren't vaccinated many years ago are still at real risk. Measles should not be taken lightly as you can never tell who will go on to develop the more serious complications of pneumonia and encephalitis.
"This is why it's incredibly important to remember that measles isn't a 'harmless' childhood disease and that it is never too late to get your child immunised with the MMR vaccine. It is the most effective way to protect children against measles, mumps and rubella."