There has been a serious outbreak of measles in Europe with the World Health Organisation warning of a “dramatic increase”. Experts have said this is due to a drop in the number of people being vaccinated.
Closer to home, this has resulted in cases being reported in South East London, including Greenwich. Those diagnosed include people who have recently returned from travelling. These cases have been in the 20-29 age bracket.
Debbie Flaxman, deputy director of infection prevention and control said: “It’s important to remind both adults and parents of young children that being vaccinated is the key to preventing this infectious disease. They can get the measles vaccination (MMR) free of charge on the NHS, and need to be aware that if they are travelling in mainland Europe they may be exposed to measles so should check they have received the MMR vaccination. Measles is a highly contagious virus that can be contracted by close contact with an infected person for example by being next to an infected person who is coughing and sneezing.”
The tell-tale sign of measles is a rash that starts behind the ears and spreads over the face and body. The rash consists of flat red or brown blotches which can flow into each other and it feels bumpy when you run your fingers over it. Other symptoms include a runny nose, red eyes, a cough, inflamed tonsils, small white spots inside the cheeks, and an increasing high temperature.
Measles can be caught at any age - if you suspect that you or a member of your family has measles you should phone (not visit) your GP without delay. Because the virus is highly contagious, please avoid going to hospital unless told to do so by your GP since there are other patients – such as those with low immune systems and pregnant women – who could suffer complications if they came into contact with an infected person. If you do attend hospital, please ensure that you inform the reception staff in order that you can be managed appropriately.
Due to the success of the national immunisation programme, a significant proportion of children are now protected against measles, but it is still most commonly found in children (especially ages 1-4) and young adults who have not been immunised.
For further information on the condition and immunisation visit please visit the NHS Choices website.