Measles warning amid ‘devastating resurgence’ of deadly disease
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Measles warning amid ‘devastating resurgence’ of deadly disease

Uptake for the MMR vaccine is at a ten-year low (Picture: Reuters)

A major measles outbreak could occur this winter amid a ‘devastating resurgence of virtually eliminated life-threatening diseases’.

Senior doctors say a fall in the number of people getting the MMR vaccine has led to a resurgence of the once-rare disease.

Only 85% of five-year-olds in England have had the recommended two doses, the lowest in a decade.

Cases have also been reported among teenagers and adults due to historic hesitancy over the vaccine.

Between January 1 and June 30 this year there were 128 laboratory confirmed measles cases in England – compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022.

New guidelines have been drawn up for NHS staff for children with respiratory infections and parents have been urged to ‘think measles’.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has also asked health professionals to check vaccination records of children entering hospitals.

The college also says the vaccine should be promoted to anyone who has not had both doses.

Symptoms include a rash on the skin (Picture: Getty Images)

There have been measles outbreaks across the UK and Europe, with cases reported in cities including Sheffield, Leicester, Cardiff and London.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) previously warned of an outbreak of between 40,000 and 60,000 in London due to poor uptake.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also warned of a ‘perfect storm’ for a large-scale outbreak.

Royal College president Dr Camilla Kingdon warned of winter surges in other infections like flu, Covid and Group A Strep.

What is Measles?

Measles is an infection that spreads easily and can cause serious problems in some people. Having the MMR vaccine is the best way to prevent it.

Measles usually starts with cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash a few days later. Some people may also get small spots in their mouth.

Symptoms include:

a high temperature a runny or blocked nose sneezing a cough red, sore, watery eyes spots in the mouth meales rash

After seeing a GP, people are advised to:

rest and drink plenty fluids, such as water, to avoid dehydration take paracetamol and ibuprofen to relieve a high temperature but do not give aspirin to children under the age of 16 use cotton wool soaked in warm water to gently remove any crusts from your or your child’s eyes Stay off nursery, school, or work for at least 4 days from when the rash first appears Also try to avoid close contact with babies, people who are pregnant and people with weakened immune systems

She also said: ‘Having to consider measles in our national guidance for the first time in decades is a disappointing but necessary move.

‘Vaccination coverage for children under the age of five is now the lowest it has ever been in the past 10 years.

‘We are already starting to see the effects of this with measles outbreaks occurring in London, Wales and Leicester.

‘Many paediatricians I know live in fear of potential measles outbreaks this winter.’

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