UK measles outbreak concerns experts

14 May 2018 09:02

Health experts have expressed concern at recent outbreaks of measles across England

Health experts have expressed concern at recent outbreaks of measles across England

Health experts have expressed concern at recent outbreaks of measles across England.

According to Public Health England (PHE) over 400 cases have been identified this year, linked to "ongoing large outbreaks in Europe".

The disease is highly infectious, and can, in some extreme cases, be fatal. PHE is urging people to ensure they're fully vaccinated, and parents to make sure their children have had the relevant vaccines against the illness.

Those at risk

Anyone who has not had two doses of the MMR vaccine is at risk. Young people mixing in close proximity, for example at festivals, are also more vulnerable, health experts have warned.

Between January 1 and May 9, there have been 440 laboratory-confirmed cases of measles in England.

This number is already higher than 2017, when there were 267 confirmed cases in England.

In 2016, the number of cases was almost double this, at 531.

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."

Travel advice

Health experts are warning people travelling to Romania and Italy to take extra caution, as these destinations have suffered large outbreaks in recent months.

Dr Ramsay said: "We'd encourage people to ensure they are up to date with their MMR vaccine before travelling to countries with ongoing measles outbreaks.

"Anyone who missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past or are unsure if they had two doses should contact their GP practice to catch up.

"This serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children at one year of age and as a pre-school booster at three years and four months of age."

Of the laboratory confirmed cases, 164 were in London, 86 in the South East, 78 in the West Midlands, 42 in the South West and 37 in West Yorkshire.

The World Health Organisation declared the UK had eliminated measles for the first time last year.

This meant the UK had reduced the number of cases to a low enough level to stop it spreading through the population for at least three years.

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