Measles outbreak strikes U.K. county

A measles outbreak has been declared in Merseyside county in the United Kingdom after 13 confirmed cases and 16 suspected cases, resulting in hospitalizations for six people.

The patients range from nine months of age to adults in their 20s. There was only one confirmed case in the county in the first six weeks of 2011. The Health Protection Agency is warning patients to make sure that their children have received full vaccinations, the BBC reports.

Most of the cases are in Liverpool with a few clustering in St. Helens.

"We have alerted GPs and asked them to notify us of any cases they come across," Roberto Vivancos, a consultant for the HPA, said, according to the BBC. "We are also asking parents and GPs to do all they can to ensure that children are fully protected by MMR vaccine."

The most common symptoms of the measles are sore eyes, a cough, fever and a rash that can develop over the course of three to four days. The rash starts on the head and face and spreads down the body. Measles spreads when infected people sneeze or cough. Those with symptoms are advised to stay away from nurseries, schools or work until four days after the development of a rash.

Infected people are asked to avoid contact with pregnant women and to telephone their general practitioner for advice before visiting a health facility.