Thursday, April 16, 2009

London: Infectious Diseases Require New Strategy

London is in the grip of a startling rise in diseases associated with Victorian times, figures disclose today.

Rare infectious illnesses including typhoid, whooping cough and scarlet fever have soared by 166 per cent in the past two years.

Infection rates in the capital are markedly higher than the national averages, warned Justine Greening, the shadow minister for London who assembled the figures.

They include a staggering 214 per cent increase in cases of mumps - up from 125 in 2007 to 393 last year. The disease is easily prevented with vaccine. The rise could be a result of parents shunning the MMR jab after now debunked claims in 2001 that it might be linked to autism. Mumps in adults can lead to hearing loss and damage the nervous system.

Whooping cough cases quadrupled in the five years to 2007, from 63 to 252. The disease is highly contagious, with infections often lasting months. Symptoms include choking spells and vomiting and can cause death, especially in young infants.

Cases of scarlet fever, which causes high fevers, rashes, and even severe damage to internal organs, are up 153 per cent since 2005, with 501 infected in London last year.

Typhoid, associated with poor sanitation and hygiene, has risen steadily since 2004, from 45 to 127 cases per year.

The Conservatives claimed the Government was partly to blame for failing to invest enough in public health and to appoint school nurses.

Ms Greening, the Putney MP, said: "The rise of these highly-infectious and potentially fatal diseases in our city is truly alarming.

"The Government must do more to ensure the public health of Londoners."

From here.

No comments: