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New measles cases linked to school
Three new measles cases linked to a school at the centre of a renewed outbreak of the disease are being investigated in a region recovering from a major epidemic.
Concerned health chiefs are urging parents with children showing symptoms of the potentially killer illness to keep them away from school.
The warning comes as efforts began today to give the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab to more than 200 at-risk pupils at a south Wales school.
The measure was ordered when a pupil became the first confirmed new measles case since the epidemic, the biggest ever to hit Wales, ended three months ago.
The urgent task of giving the triple vaccination to pupils at Cwmtawe School, in Port Talbot, south Wales, continues tomorrow.
Of the three new suspected measles cases, two concern pupils attending Ysgol Y Cribarth, in Abercrave, and are connected to the earlier confirmed case at Cwmtawe School.
Public Health Wales (PHW) has sent letters urging parents of unvaccinated children who attend either school to arrange for them to have the MMR jab.
Of 1,260 pupils at Cwmtawe School, 62 are recorded as having received no doses of the MMR vaccine at all, and 142 have received only one dose.
Two doses of MMR are needed to provide the maximum 99% protection against measles.
Due to the small number of unprotected pupils at Ysgol Y Cribarth, Powys Teaching Health Board will arrange for susceptible children to be immunised individually.
"Public Health Wales has been notified of three more cases of measles associated with a cluster of cases in South West Wales," a PHW spokesman said.
"There are now three cases associated with Cwmtawe School, Neath Port Talbot, one of which has been laboratory confirmed.
"Two probable cases have been identified in children in Ysgol Y Cribarth, Powys, who are connected to the confirmed case at Cwmtawe School.
"An MMR vaccination session is being held at Cwmtawe School tomorrow, arranged by Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, as just over 200 pupils at the school are not fully vaccinated."
Dr Jorg Hoffmann, PHW consultant in communicable disease control, said: "This cluster of measles cases comes only three months after the end of Wales's biggest ever measles outbreak, which was centred on the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board area, so we are obviously concerned and want to act quickly.
"Although we vaccinated more than 75,000 people during the outbreak, we are aware of more than 30,000 children in the 10 to 18 age group who remain unvaccinated in Wales and have always warned that this could lead to another outbreak.
"We have written to all parents of unvaccinated children in Cwmtawe School and Ysgol Y Cribarth to urge them to arrange for their children to be vaccinated.
"In the meantime, to prevent the spread of infection, we would urge parents of any children who become unwell with measles-like symptoms over the weekend to keep them at home and seek medical advice, and not to allow them to attend events where other children will be present."
A massive programme to inoculate thousands of children was launched in the greater Swansea area in the spring as it battled a major measles outbreak.
Large numbers of previously unprotected children were given the triple measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab as a result.
More than 1,200 people contracted measles, 88 serious enough to visit hospital and one person died in the outbreak which began in November last year.