Parents are urged to make sure children have had measles jab
Health trusts are writing to hundreds of parents urging them to ensure their children have a measles jab after infection rates more than doubled.
Letters are being sent out in a bid to prevent the number of cases reaching epidemic proportions.
Latest available figures show the number of reported measles patients in Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire rose from 72 in 2004 to 159 in 2006.
The Department of Health is so concerned about the national rise in cases that trusts, including NHS Leicester City and NHS Leicestershire County and Rutland, have been given about £30,000 each to boost vaccination rates.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
Measles causes a skin rash and flu-like symptoms. In rare cases, it can cause deafness, blindness, pneumonia and inflammation of the brain. As it is caused by a virus, once its strikes there is no specific treatment and it has to run its course.
Health officials are writing to parents of children who might have missed the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab.
The immunisation programme was seen as a success until a dip in confidence a decade ago, following flawed research allegedly linking the jab with autism.
The most recent figures show immunisation take-up rates in the city were above the national average of 84 per cent for the first jab and 74 per cent for the second. However, public health officials are concerned that unless at least 95 per cent of youngsters are vaccinated, there is a risk of a measles epidemic.
Ivan Browne, newly-appointed consultant in public health at NHS Leicester City, said: "Measles can be a very serious illness.
"Children used to die from it and there can be serious complications, such as encephalitis, which is swelling on the brain."