Measles spike prompts warning at universities

University practices should expect a greater influx of students with measles when the academic year begins, as figures show infection rates are around four times higher than normal.

Measles is a highly infectious viral disease spread through the air (Photograph: SPL)
Measles is a highly infectious viral disease spread through the air (Photograph: SPL)

By the end of July, 777 cases of measles had been confirmed by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) for this year - almost double the 374 cases from the whole of 2010.

It warned that further outbreaks may occur after students return to university and urged students to ensure they have had the necessary vaccinations.

The majority of measles cases were in children and young people aged under 25 and concentrated in small clusters in universities and schools.

Incidence of meningococcal infection reached 896 cases in 2010.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the HPA, said: 'Measles and meningitis are infections that can both be fatal, it is absolutely vital that all students ensure they are completely up-to-date with all their vaccinations, especially the MMR and Men C vaccine.

'University bars and campuses where lots of students are in close proximity is an ideal place for bacteria and viruses to spread which is why we may see more outbreaks of these infections in this environment.'

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