Public Health England is advising people to ensure that they have received the 2 MMR vaccines following confirmed outbreaks of Measles in parts of the UK.
According to recent figures, between the 1st January and the 13th August 2018 there have been 828 laboratory confirmed measles cases in England. These cases were reported in most areas with London (291), the South East (169), South West (138), West Midlands (85) and Yorkshire and Humberside (80) reporting the most cases (based on provisional figures).
This is an increase in previous figures, the cause of the rise is due to parts of Europe where there are Measles outbreaks and people not being properly vaccinated against the virus prior to travelling.
People at risk of Measles
Those particularly at risk of contracting the highly infectious viral illness are young people and adults aged 15 and over who missed out on the MMR vaccine when they were younger.
Some under vaccinated communities are also affected.
If you’re also attending festivals with large amounts of people you are also at risk, as well as people travelling to parts of Romania and Italy, where there is currently a large outbreak of the virus.
If you’re planning to travel to Europe, ensure you have checked the NaTHNac travel health advice website.
Measles, the virus
As a virus it is highly infectious illness that can lead to serious complications and can be fatal in rare cases.
The initial symptoms of the virus are those more commonly associated with a common cold and can include:
- a runny or blocked nose
- watery eyes
- swollen eyelids
- High temperature (fever), which may reach around 40C.
Prior to a rash appearing you may notice small greysh-white spots in the mouth.
Not everyone with measles has these spots, however, if someone has them in addition to the other symptoms, there is a high probability that they have Measles.
With it coming to the end of high summer, PHE (Public Health England) local health protection teams are working closely with NHS and local authorities to raise awareness.
If you have not been vaccinated against Measles, you should speak to your GP, as the vaccination is available.
Your GP will be able to advise you further.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE, said:
The measles outbreaks we are currently seeing in England are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe. The majority of cases we are seeing are in teenagers and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine when they were children
This serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children
In the UK, we recently achieved WHO (World Health Organisation) Measles elimination status and so the overall risk of Measles to the UK populous is low.
However, despite this we will continue to see cases occur from those individuals that have not been immunised against the virus, which could cause limited onward spread within communities where the MMR vaccine has not been taken seriously.