GPs warned about measles in gypsy and traveller communities

GPs are being warned about measles outbreaks in gypsy and traveller communities across the UK.

Measles: GPs warned about outbreaks in traveller communities (Photo: SPL)
Measles: GPs warned about outbreaks in traveller communities (Photo: SPL)

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is currently investigating the outbreaks and urged practices that encounter cases of the disease to notify their local health protection unit (HPU) urgently by telephone on 0844 225 4524, or by post within three days.

The HPA said: ‘For healthy contacts, MMR vaccination may be effective post-exposure prophylaxis, if given within 72 hours. Oral fluid testing kits for measles serology and PCR are available from the local HPU on request.’

GPs are told to inform secondary care staff if they are referring patients with measles to hospital. This is to allow patients to avoid being placed in waiting areas to reduce the infection spreading to others.

The HPA has also said that all healthcare workers should be fully vaccinated or immunised against measles, particularly those in front-line settings.

The HPA warned in August that measles infections are continuing to rise and parents must ensure children have had both MMR jabs before returning to school.

Twice as many confirmed cases of measles were recorded in the first six months of 2012 as in the same period in 2011. The HPA said that poor uptake of MMR immunisation may be contributing to the rise in cases.

There were 964 confirmed cases of measles in January to June 2012, compared with 497 cases from January to June 2011. A total of 1,086 cases were reported in 2011, almost three times the 380 cases reported in 2010.

More information about measles is available at www.hpa.org.uk.

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