Health experts are warning of a measles epidemic after the highest ever number of cases were recorded.

Health Protection Agency figures show there have been 1,049 measles cases in England and Wales up to the end of October 2008, surpassing last year's figure of 990.

This is the highest number since records began in 1995.

HPA immunisation expert Dr Mary Ramsay said: "Over the last few years we have seen an unprecedented increase in measles cases and we are still receiving reports of cases across the country."

She put the soaring disease levels down to the low numbers of children taking up the MMR vaccine over the past decade.

"There is now a real risk of a large measles epidemic. These children are susceptible to not only measles but to mumps and rubella as well," she said.

To read the HPA's latest report on measles, go to