Measles is on the increase in the UK, but internationally cases are falling, say Helen E Bedford and David A C Elliman
The latest data from the Health Protection Agency show that in 2008 there were 1348 confirmed cases of measles (provisional numbers) in England and Wales.1
This is the highest number since this form of surveillance began in 1996. So, why the increase, who is catching measles, and what is being done about it?
A quarter of reported cases were among children aged 1-4 years and almost half in 5-14 year olds. Uptake of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the United Kingdom began to decline after 1998 following publication of unsubstantiated research that raised concerns that the vaccine could cause autism and bowel conditions. Although uptake has risen more recently and is now 85%, on average, at its lowest it was 80% and much lower in some London districts. In 2004-5 only half of the 2 year olds in Kensington and Chelsea Primary Care Trust had been given