PARENTS in Dorset and the New Forest are being warned to check that their children are fully immunised against measles, mumps and rubella before travelling abroad this summer.

The popular destinations France, Italy, Spain and Ireland are among the top seven countries reporting high numbers of measles cases at the moment.

In England, the number of cases of the highly infectious disease had reached 1,123 by the end of May, with one in five sufferers being hospitalised. The previous record high was almost 2,000 cases in 2012.

Dr Michael Baker, NHS England’s public health consultant in screening and immunisation for Hampshire and Dorset, said: “Measles is a very unpleasant illness and can lead to serious complications. So far this year, more than 224 children in England have been hospitalised.

“Parents of unvaccinated children, teenagers or young people should seek at least one dose of MMR vaccination which will give them 95 per cent protection against measles. A second dose is then needed to provide almost complete protection.”

Experts are concerned that the summer holidays provide an opportunity for measles to spread as large numbers of people come into contact with one another and travel over a short period of time.

Symptoms may include a fever, cough, red eyes and a blocked nose. A blotchy rash appears on the face, spreading to the rest of the body over several days.

People are usually infectious from the day before their first symptom shows to four or five days after the rash first appears. Anyone who suspects their child has measles should not send them to school or nursery and should contact their GP.

Public Health England, NHS England and the Department of Health are currently running a catch-up programme for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated 10 to 16-year-olds to make sure as many as possible are protected before the start of the next school year.