Measles Outbreak Sweeps Across UK, Public Health England Warns
There are more than 120 confirmed cases — months after the disease was announced to be eliminated.
It’s the comeback tour nobody wanted.
We’re talking about measles.
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Public Health England has warned that the disease is spreading across Britain. It’s reached five regions, with more than 120 cases now confirmed.
Although risk is still low, parents are being urged to vaccinate their children with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) jab.
Recently enjoyed a winter break in Romania, Germany, or Italy? If you haven’t already been vaccinated, then you could be at risk. A recent outbreak in Europe has been partially blamed for the increase in cases, although local under-vaccinated communities have also played a part.
“This serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children at 1 year of age and as a pre-school booster at 3 years and 4 months of age,” said Dr Mary Ramsay, Public Health England’s head of immunisation. “Children and young adults 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.”
Highest no. #measles cases in EU since Jan 2017 reported in Romania, Italy, Germany - significant outbreaks also in Greece, France, Sweden, UK. Vaccination with at least 2 doses of MMR vaccine is most effective way to prevent further spread of measles https://t.co/S0JjTVPAWcpic.twitter.com/QLLXd7x5X6— ECDC - VPD (@ECDC_VPD) January 15, 2018
But, didn’t we get rid of measles already?
Sort of. The fresh outbreak comes just months after the World Health Organisation announced that Britain had “eliminated” measles for the first time.
However, elimination doesn’t actually mean… er, elimination. It’s different to eradication, which can only refer to a disease that’s been wiped out globally, like smallpox. Elimination means that there was a lack of indigenous cases recorded in the UK for three years, which doesn’t count the relatively small number of cases brought in from the outside.
Global Citizen reported in September 2017 that England had reached its target of to get 95% of children dosed with the first MMR vaccine before their first birthday. That’s a really good thing, because it means that a dramatic outbreak is deemed unlikely. Indeed, Public Health England have said that the present situation appears to be stabilising.
It just goes to show the power of vaccinations.
Where is all this happening?
West Yorkshire: 34
West Midlands: 32
Greater Manchester: 20
What even is measles?
It’s like a cold, but worse. Think man-flu, but real. According to the NHS, symptoms involve coughing, sneezing, aches, pains, tiredness, a high temperature, and spots in your mouth. It’s also extremely infectious.
While it usually clears up in around a week, it can cause some serious complications, including infections of the lungs (pneumonia), and brain (encephalitis).
If you think you or your child might have measles, contact your GP. Phone ahead.
If you haven’t been vaccinated, don’t worry — although it’s most often delivered to children in two doses, you can get the MMR jab at any age in the UK. Though if you were born before 1970 it’s likely you’re immune already. Just ask your GP for details.
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