THERE have been 40 cases of measles in Bolton this year — compared to only one in 2011.

The worrying statistics come after an outbreak in a secondary school and a nursery in Bolton last week.

Health chiefs are growing concerned as there have also been a number of isolated cases, with no links to the outbreaks at Harper Green School, in Farnworth, or the private nursery in Bromley Cross.

Parents in the borough are being urged to get children who have not had the MMR jab or who have not had the second booster injection immunised, to stop the spread of the disease.

The outbreak affected 23 children, mainly in Years Seven and Eight, at Harper Green School, and about 10 babies at the nursery, who are under the age of 12-anda- half months old — the age at which they will be immunised.

Of the children affected, two were hospitalised.

In September, three children living in the Hall Lane travellers’ camp, in Moses Gate, were diagnosed with measles.

The disease, which is preventable by having the MMRjab, has spread among children who were not vaccinated when they were babies after controversial research claimed to link the injection to autism.

Immunisation levels dropped to 84 per cent in the UK.

Now they are back to 95 per cent, and Bolton’s take-up stands at 96.3 per cent.

There has been a huge rise in measles cases in the UK this year, and in Greater Manchester there have been 98 confirmed cases this year, compared to 21 in 2011.

The majority of cases have been in Bolton and Wigan.

Graham Munslow, health protection specialist at NHS Bolton, has urged parents to make sure their child is vaccinated.

He said: “People often think it is a childhood sickness and they get over it, but there are a significant number of children who are left with significant problems for the rest of their lives.

“It is not like chicken pox — measles is much more damaging to children.”

Measles can cause lifelong problems and disabilities and in some cases can kill.

It can lead to serious conditions including bronchitis, pneumonia, convulsions, encephalitis, which is swelling of the brain, and meningitis.