THREE more cases of measles have been confirmed in an outbreak affecting Newport and Torfaen.

This takes the total number of people who have caught the disease in the area since June to 16.

And with the new school term just a few weeks away, Public Health Wales is urging parents to make sure their children have had two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine before classes begin again.

Consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health Wales Dr Rhianwen Stiff said: “In our current outbreak, we have seen measles pass between pupils at the same school.

“With children returning from holidays in Europe, and with our ongoing outbreak in Newport and Torfaen, we are concerned that the start of the new term could lead to further cases of measles in Wales.

“Measles is highly contagious and passes very easily between people who are unvaccinated.

“The message is simple, MMR offers the best and only protection against measles.

“If you, or your child, are not up to date with two doses of the MMR vaccine, speak to your GP surgery immediately.”

Symptoms of measles include a high temperature, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a red rash. Children showing any of these symptoms should be kept home from school, nursery and social events such as holiday clubs and birthday parties.

Parents are also being urged not to take children who appear to have measles to hospital or a GP surgery without calling ahead first.

A vaccination programme in schools across Newport was launched following the first outbreak, with 1,089 children receiving immunisation.

Adults born after 1970 who have never had measles or the MMR vaccine are also being urged to contact their GP to arrange immunisation, especially if they work with children.

The first dose of the vaccine is usually given to babies between 12 and 13 months, and the second at around three years, four months. But it can be given at any time.

The cases are being directly linked to a larger outbreak in Europe which has affected 14,000 people, 35 of whom have died, since the start of the year.

About one in five children with measles can experience serious complications such as ear infections, pneumonia or meningitis, and one in 10 will end up in hospital. In rare cases it can be fatal.

For information call your GP surgery or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47.