Warnings issued to ensure people are up to date with the vaccine due to ongoing measles outbreaks.
Public Health England has been reporting large outbreaks of measles across Europe with some outbreaks in the UK too. Due to the outbreak, people are now being urged to ensure they are up to date with their MMR vaccines. The advice is particularly focused on those who are travelling abroad, heading to university or going to festivals.
Many of the cases of measles are found in teenagers and young adults. The head of immunisation at Public Health England, Dr Mary Ramsay, explains that this is because many young adults missed out on the MMR vaccine as a child.
Subsequently, Public Health England is now urging people who are not sure whether they have had two doses or not had the vaccine before to visit their GP.
While measles will typically appear with cold-like symptoms, it is highly infectious and can lead to severe complications. With this in mind, people are urged to take the necessary steps to prevent the disease which symptoms can include;
After these initial symptoms, a red/brown rash can appear on the body. It will usually start on the face and neck and then spread all over the body. Another sign of measles is small white spots on the inside of the mouth that appear and disappear before the rash. Spotting this sign can help to contain the virus before it becomes at its most contagious.
The NHS describes measles as a highly contagious viral infection. It is spread through airborne mucus such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can last for several hours out of the body so can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces or breathing in the droplets. However, symptoms may not appear until 10-12 days after exposure to the infected person.
If you believe you have measles, you may need to get in touch with your GP for a diagnosis. However, it is recommended to phone rather than visit as the GP practice may need to make arrangements to prevent the spread of the disease.
Is measles dangerous?
For most people, measles can clear in ten days and is not dangerous. However, in a small number of cases, it can lead to severe complications such as permanent eye diseases, brain disorders, bronchitis and pneumonia.
For self-treatment, the NHS recommends, keeping lighting levels low to reduce light sensitivity, drinking lots of water to prevent dehydration and taking painkillers such as paracetamol. You can also reduce a high temperature by mopping your brow with damp cotton wool.