Parents planning trips to the continent have been warned to ensure their children are immunised against measles after an outbreak of the disease.

A letter has been sent home to parents at Penryn College warning them of the importance of getting the MMR vaccine.

It states: “This is to you alert you that France is currently experiencing a large outbreak of measles with over 3,000 cases confirmed this year.

“Outbreaks have also been reported in countries bordering France and in other parts of Europe.

“There has been a much smaller increase in confirmed cases of measles during the past month in the UK.

“The vast majority of cases have occurred in persons who are unimmunised and most cases are in older children attending secondary school, in students attending university and in adults.

“Many of these cases have links to cases in France.

“There is considerable risk that your child may catch measles if they are not protected against the disease. Unless your child has already received two doses of vaccine, we would advise you to obtain MMR vaccination before travelling to mainland Europe.”

Sarah Francis, a practice nurse at Falmouth Health Centre, agreed with the advice.

She said: “Getting your child immunised is absolutely vital. There is an incidence rate of the disease of around eight cases per 100,000 people in France at the moment, that figure is normally around one in 100,000.

“In 2010 there were around 5,000 cases in total in the country, but in the first two months of this year there were nearly 4,000 cases.

“The most at-risk group seems to be those aged between ten and 19-years-old.

“Measles can be a very serious disease, but it can be prevented easily with the MMR vaccine.

“If your child is not immunised, you should get to your doctor as soon as possible and get the vaccine administered – there is no limit to when you can have the jab, so our advice would be to have it as soon as you can.”