2013 Swansea measles epidemic

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Swansea, Wales, U.K.
Classification and external resources
Specialty infectious disease
ICD-10 B05
ICD-9-CM 055
DiseasesDB 7890
MedlinePlus 001569
eMedicine derm/259 emerg/389 ped/1388
MeSH D008457
2012–13 Swansea measles epidemic
Disease Measles
Dates November 2012 –
3 July 2013
Deaths 1
Confirmed cases 1,219

The 2012–13 Swansea measles epidemic began in November 2012 and was declared over on 3 July 2013. There were a total of 1,219 measles notifications (suspected cases) in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys, with 1,455 measles notifications for the whole of Wales, 664 of which were in Swansea alone.[1] A total of 88 people were hospitalised for measles infection during the epidemic.[2] One death was reported: a 25-year-old man suffering from giant cell pneumonia brought on by measles infection died on 18 April 2013.[3] The cost associated with treating the sick and controlling the outbreak exceeded £470,000 ($701,898).[2]

Some sources linked the outbreak with the MMR vaccine controversy and a campaign in the South Wales Evening Post in the 1990s against the MMR vaccine,[4][5] as the majority of those who became infected were not immunised as infants during the MMR scare.[6] Uptake of the MMR vaccine fell from 94% of two-year-olds in Wales in 1995 to 78% by 2003. In the Swansea area the uptake fell to 67.5%.[2] The South Wales Evening Post was also criticised for appearing to exaggerate the number of confirmed measles cases that occurred during the epidemic.[5]

In the wake of the outbreak MMR clinics were set up in four hospitals in Swansea and Neath-Port Talbot and vaccinated over 1,800 people. Several politicians, including Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones, urged the public to make sure their children were vaccinated.[7] Politicians and vaccine experts also called for mandatory vaccinations to be implemented.[8][9] The Welsh Government opposed mandatory vaccination, believing that trust in the MMR vaccine had been regained and could be damaged if it were mandatory.[8]

Hywel Dda Health Board offered the vaccine in April 2013 in the surrounding counties of Carmarthen, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire in a bid to contain the outbreak.[7] Vaccinations were held in all comprehensive schools in Powys.[7] There were concerns that the epidemic could spread to London and infect many more people,[10] prompting the Department of Health to set up a mass vaccination campaign targeted at one million school children throughout England.[11]

The following table shows measles notifications by the NHS Health Board.

Health Board Nov 2012 Dec Jan 2013 Feb Mar Apr May June July Total
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg 15 37 39 66 239 440 98 26 0 960
Hwyel Dda 17 24 8 9 14 43 28 13 2 158
Powys 2 0 3 0 36 46 12 2 0 101
Total 34 61 50 75 289 529 138 41 2 1219[1]

Reported notifications tend to exceed confirmed cases. Public Health Wales issued a statement saying, "Measles is one of a number of notifiable diseases. Doctors in Wales have a statutory duty to notify a 'Proper Officer' of the Local Authority of suspected cases of measles based on clinical symptoms, usually before diagnosis has been confirmed by laboratory testing. Reported notifications of measles usually far exceed the actual numbers of confirmed cases. Other rashes are often mistaken for measles".[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/66389
  2. ^ a b c "Swansea measles epidemic: Worries over MMR uptake after outbreak". BBC News. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Measles sufferer Gareth Colfer-Williams died from pneumonia". BBC News. 1 July 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Meikle, J. (17 April 2013). "Measles outbreak sees 'missing generation' queuing for MMR jab". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  5. ^ a b McCartney, M. (2013). "MMR, measles, and the South Wales Evening Post". BMJ. 346: f2598. PMID 23610382. doi:10.1136/bmj.f2598. 
  6. ^ Willingham, E. (21 July 2013). "The Price Of The Autism-Measles Panic, 15 Years Later". Forbes. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c "Swansea measles: First Minister urges MMR jabs for children". BBC News. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Measles: Make MMR jab mandatory' call by US expert". BBC News. 10 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Swansea measles: Ex-health minister Edwina Currie backs mandatory jabs". BBC News. 21 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  10. ^ Legge, J. (28 April 2013). "'Very large outbreak' of measles could hit London". The Independent. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  11. ^ Gallagher, J. (25 April 2013). "Measles vaccination plan in England targets 1m children". BBC News. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Measles". Retrieved 11 May 2013. 

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