Health bosses nationwide are calling for parents to get their children vaccinated against measles after a worrying rise in cases.
According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), there were 347 laboratory confirmed measles cases reported in England from October 2023. A total of 127 of these cases were confirmed in January 2024.
This is an alarming trend, especially given the fact that measles was declared eliminated in the UK in 2017 by the World Health Organisation, with a drop in vaccination rates cited as the main reason for this.
Measles spreads very easily among those who are unvaccinated, especially in nurseries and schools.
Children who contract the disease can become very unwell and, in some cases, measles can lead to hospitalisation and, in rare cases, death.
One expert revealed that most parents won’t spot the symptoms of measles “until it’s too late”.
Speaking on social media platform TikTok, pharmacist Raj Patel said: “99 percent of parents won’t recognise measles until it’s too late.
“In 2022, measles killed 136,200 kids globally.”
The reasons why symptoms can be hard to spot at first is the fact they often resemble that of a cold.
“It starts with cold-like symptoms,” Raj said.
- High temperature (fever)
- Runny or blocked nose
- Red, sore, and watery eyes.
Symptoms could then be followed by spots in the mouth.
Raj said: “A few days after the initial symptoms, small white spots might appear inside the cheeks and on the back of the lips. Known as Koplik’s spots, these are a key indicator of measles.
“The rash usually follows the cold-like symptoms, starting on the face and behind the ears. It then spreads to the rest of the body.”
- May consist of raised spots that join together, forming blotchy patches
- Is generally brown or red on white skin, but it may be less noticeable on darker skin tones
- Is not usually itchy.
If your child experiences symptoms you should call 111 or book an urgent GP appointment.
Raj urged parents to get their children vaccinated if they are not already.
“The decline in vaccination rates has led to a staggering 43 percent increase in deaths,” he said.
“The solution is really simple – the MMR vaccine, it’s a proven shield against measles.
“Get your child the first MMR, dose at one year and the second at three years and four months,
“It’s never too late to catch up. This simple step can protect your child from severe complications, like pneumonia and meningitis.
“Talk to your GP today. Let’s bring those numbers down together.”