Parents are being urged to immunise their children after a sudden outbreak of measles in Orthodox Jewish communities in Hackney, Haringey and parts of Barnet.

Public Health England (formally known as the Health Protection Agency) has recommended that pupils are given two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jab before returning to school for the autumn term.

PHE nurse consultant Sara Atkin said: “There is an on-going outbreakof measles within the Orthodox Jewish population in Hackney and Haringey and there is a possibility that we might start to see an increase in cases within the Jewish community in Barnet.”

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness and, although most children recover completely, there may be serious complications with one-in-10 children with the infection needing to go to hospital. Pregnant women are also at risk of complications.

In the UK, two doses of MMR are usually given, the first from 12 months and the second at three years.

More than 1,200 people fell ill, some 88 visited hospital and one person died in an outbreak that began in Swansea last November.