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The measles outbreak in the UK – what to do and the symptoms to look out for


The NHS have confirmed there has been over 100 cases of measles in the UK in five separate regions of the country. The harmful bug has spread to Liverpool, West Yorkshite, Greater Manchester, Surrey and Sussex and the West Midlands.

What is measles?

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be prevented by the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination. The MMR vaccine is available to all adults and children who are not up to date with their two doses.

In rare cases, measles can be fatal and around one in five children with measles will experience complications such as ear infections, diarrhoea and vomiting, pneumonia, meningitis and eye disorders.

I live near the outbreaks, should I be worried?

Whether you live near one of the five areas where there have been recent outbreaks or not, it’s important that your children are up to date with their MMR vaccinations. If your child has already had their two doses of the MMR vaccine, you don’t need to worry.

If your child has had their first dose of the MMR vaccination as a baby, but they are not old enough to receive their second and you are living or traveling to an area with an outbreak, check with your GP, as the doses of the vaccination can be given earlier than usual in special circumstances.

If your child has already started school and they have only had one MMR dose, or have not been vaccinated at all, visit your GP to enquire about vaccinations as soon as possible.

What should I do if my baby is under 6 months?

Babies under six months are not old enough to be given the MMR vaccine. You will have passed some of the antibodies to measles on to your baby at birth, which will give them some protection, but the best approach is to avoid them having any contact with measles.

At what age should my children be vaccinated?

The first dose of the MMR vaccination is usually given at the age of 13 months, and again as a ‘booster’ jab between the ages of 3 and 5. If you’re not sure whether your child is up to date with their vaccinations, check with your GP.

Can you still get measles if you have had the MMR vaccination?

It is very unlikely, but you do need two doses of MMR to be fully protected. According to the NHS, the first dose protects 90% of those who receive it, the second dose boosts this up to 99% protection.

Who is most at risk?

Public Health England have said those who have recently travelled to Romania, Italy and Germany are particularly at risk. Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said 122 cases have been confirmed nationwide and that ‘the measles outbreaks we are currently seeing in England are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe.’

Public Health England are urging those who have travelled to Romania, Italy and Germany, who have not had two doses of the MMR vaccine to contact their GP.

What are the symptoms of measles to look out for?

If you’re worried you or your baby has measles, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Cough-like symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing and a cough
  • Sore, red eyes that might be sensitive to the light
  • A high temperature
  • Small, greyish-white spots on the inside of the cheeks

For more information, visit the NHS’s dedicated page for the Measles Outbreak

Read next: How to unblock your baby’s nose 

Read next: Chicken Pox – everything you need to know 



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