Along with other Directors of Public Health, I’ve been updated by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) after its health protection data showed there has been a steady rise in measles cases in England since January this year.
Most of the cases have been in London, although there have been cases picked up across the country, and some are linked to travel abroad.
The risk to the UK population remains low, but we’re supporting the UKSHA in asking you to be alert to the signs and symptoms of measles and to make sure you and your children have received two doses of the free, safe and effective MMR jab.
Measles is highly contagious and can lead to complications such as ear infections, pneumonia, and inflammation of the brain which require hospitalisation and on rare occasions can lead to long term disability or death.
Spending 15 minutes or more in direct contact with someone infected with measles is enough to catch the infection. People whose immunity is compromised, pregnant women and unvaccinated children are at increased risk of severe disease.
Measles symptoms to be aware of include:
- high fever
- sore, red, watery eyes
- aching and feeling generally unwell
- a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms.
If you have any symptoms that could be measles, please stay at home and phone your GP or NHS 111 for advice, rather than visiting the surgery or accident and emergency.
This is because measles spreads very quickly and easily and so it is important to try and prevent the illness spreading further – especially to those who might be more vulnerable to infection.
If you’re unsure whether your child is up to date with all their routine vaccinations I advise you to check your child’s Red Book (personal child health record).
If you are still not sure, or if you need to bring your child up to date with their vaccines, contact your GP practice to check and book an appointment.
Barnsley’s School Age Immunisation Service (South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust) have several community clinics running throughout the school holidays and can offer the Measles Mumps and Rubella, and other routine childhood vaccines, to pre-school children from 3 years 10 months to those in school year 11. A limited number of home visit appointments are also available.
Please contact the team by emailing email@example.com or telephone 01226 438828/29 to arrange – they’ll be happy to help you! There will also be information shared on facebook.com/BarnsleySpecialistChildrensHealth
For more information about measles, or childhood vaccinations, visit the nhs.uk website.