AS anyone unfortunate enough to have caught it knows, measles is a very unpleasant illness.

Measles is highly infectious and even a straightforward case can make a patient feel extremely unwell.

But in around a third of all cases the virus can lead to potentially life-threatening complications such as pneumonia, blindness and encephalitis.

Despite a widely available – and effective – vaccination there are still around 20 million cases every year. In fact, no other easily preventable disease causes as many deaths worldwide.

Now health chiefs in Bradford are warning parents to be on their guard after several new cases of measles in the district.

The Bradford cluster is part of a wider outbreak that was first reported in November and has since spread to Leeds, Liverpool, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Sussex.

The good news for parents is that the vaccination is freely available on the NHS.

The MMR vaccination also protects against mumps and rubella and is usually offered in two doses – the first being administered to babies around their first birthday.

But the MMR scare, which began in 1998, means that around two million children missed out on their vaccination. Those young adults are now at risk.

We urge all parents to make sure their children have been vaccinated – check with your GP if you are unsure – and if you think you might have measles do everything you can to avoid spreading the virus.