SOUTH Tyneside has remained free of measles despite another rise in the number of cases in the North East, according to new figures.
Since the beginning of last September, 122 confirmed cases and 128 suspected cases of the illness have now been reported across the region.
In the last week there have an additional seven cases reported, say experts from the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
However, despite the borough remaining free of cases, parents are still being urged to have their children vaccinated.
Julia Waller, immunisation lead for the HPA in the North East, said: “We aren’t yet seeing the same rise in cases of measles in South Tyneside as has been reported in other parts of the region.
“ But, as we are such a mobile population, the risk of coming into contact with measles has significantly grown.
“Measles is potentially a very serious illness, which on rare occasions can be fatal.
“It is highly infectious, and unvaccinated children and adults who haven’t had it before are at risk when it is circulating, as it is now in the North East.
“Measles should not be taken lightly, as you can never tell who will go on to develop the more serious complications of pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
“This is why it’s incredibly important to remember that measles isn’t a ‘harmless’ childhood disease, and why we are urging parents to make sure that their children are fully immunised and have had both doses of the MMR vaccine. “
The majority of cases continue to be reported in County Durham, Darlington and the Tees area.
People aged between 10 and 19 years are the most affected, making up 38 per cent of all cases.
To prevent spreading the illness, the HPA is advising people with symptoms of measles to stay indoors until at least four full days have elapsed since the appearance of a rash.
Those affected are also advised to inform GP surgeries and walk-in centres prior to arrival, avoid pregnant women, those with weak immune systems and babies who are too young to be vaccinated.