Cases of measles surge to three-year high as kids head back to school – the 5 signs parents must be on the lookout for | The Sun

MEASLES cases in England have surged to a three-year high as kids head back to the classroom.

Some 141 confirmed cases have been recorded between January and July 2023, UK Health Security Agency data suggests.

Over half of all recorded infections (60 per cent) were reported in London – although all regions have reported at least one case.

The majority of cases (58 per cent) were reported in children aged under 10 years, and over a quarter were in teenagers and young people aged 15 to 34 years.

There is now potential for a major resurgence, experts have said.

Measles is a highly infectious disease, spreading quickly from person to person, especially in schools.

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It is so contagious that a child who has it will infection up to nine out of 10 children around them, if not protected by a jab.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, a UKHSA epidemiologist, said: “Due to longstanding sub-optimal vaccine uptake there is now a very real risk of seeing big outbreaks in London.”

Around one in 10 children heading back to school this September will not have had both doses of the lifesaving MMR jab, which protects children from measles, mumps and rubella.

"This is shockingly bad and is begging for a big outbreak," Prof Helen Bedford, an expert in child public health at University College London, previously told The Sun.

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"There is no question, we're going to see a surge of cases if things continue this way.

"So far, we've only seen limited outbreaks across the country, but we're likely to see more."

The UKHSA assessed the risk of a measles epidemic across the UK as "low".

However, it said that with lower levels of jab coverage in London, an outbreak of between 40,000 and 160,000 cases might let loose in the capital.

The measles vaccine (MMR) is given to children in the UK at 12 months and again at three years and four months.

Uptake of the MMR vaccine is as low as 70 per cent in some parts of the city, with 95 per cent needed for herd immunity.

"Unless more kids get vaccinated before they go back, outbreaks are very likely to happen," Prof Helen Bedford, added.

Susceptibility is particularly high among 19 to 25 year olds, the UKHSA said.

Many within the age group went unvaccinated at the time because of unfounded stories about the vaccines safety in the 2000s.

The UKHSA says that uptake of non-Covid vaccines fell during the pandemic.

But Prof Helen said the low uptake could also be down to the national shortage of healthcare workers, who are often the only people to discuss vaccinations with parents.

Data from NHS Digital reveals there were 5,870 health visitors in July 2022, a drop of 43 per cent from its peak of 10,309 in October 2015.

Measles can be very serious in children, older people and those with weekend immune systems, the NHS says.

Dr Vanessa added: "Nobody wants to see their child or loved ones sick with measles, or put others who are more vulnerable, like babies, at risk. I urge those who have missed their MMR vaccines to catch-up now."

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Anyone can catch up on missed injections for free at any age.

Parents can check that their children are fully up to date by checking their vaccine record in the red book.

What the are the symptoms of measles?

MEASLES usually begins with cold-like symptoms.

These include:

  • a high temperature
  • a runny or blocked nose
  • sneezing
  • a cough
  • red, sore, watery eyes

Small white spots may appear inside the cheeks and on the back of the lips a few days later. These spots usually last a few days.

A blotchy red rash usually appears a few days after the cold-like symptoms. It starts on the face and behind the ears before moving to the rest of the body.

It usually clears in seven to 10 days but can lead to other serious complications.

Severe complications can occur, including miscarriage in pregnant women, brain swelling and the risk of death from pneumonia.

It's very unlikely to be measles if you've had both doses of the MMR vaccine or you've had measles before.

But it you think you or your child could have measles ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111.

Source: NHS

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