The number of cases of measles is rising and outbreaks have been reported in the UK. Public Health Northamptonshire and Nene and Corby CGGs wish to remind the public that the measles virus is very contagious and can have serious health complications such as brain, lung and ear infection and may cause death.
The measles virus can be spread by an infected person through the air, through breathing, coughing or sneezing and touching a surface the droplets have settled on and then placing your hands near your nose or mouth.
It is important for the public to remain alert for any signs or symptoms of measles. Initial measles symptoms include: a high fever, cough, runny nose, and red and watery eyes as well as eye sensitivity to light. After 3-5 days a raised red rash will start to appear on the head, face and body. Please note that not all symptoms may be present.
If you suspect that you or your child may have measles and have any of the above symptoms:
- Contact your GP as soon as possible, it's best to phone before your visit as your GP surgery may need to make arrangements to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others. You should also see a GP if you have been in close contact with someone who has measles and have not been fully vaccinated with 2 doses of the MMR vaccine or have not had the infection before.
- Isolation at home is strongly recommended.
- Keep children at home if they are not well and/or experience any of the above measles symptoms.
- Stay home and away from public areas or work if you have any of the measles symptoms noted above.
- To minimise any spread of germs, cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and ensure that you wash your hands using soap and clean water several times throughout the day and after coughing, sneezing or caring for a sick person.
- Keep hydrated by drinking lots of fluid.
- Do not share bedding, clothing or drinks etc.
People at increased risk of contracting the disease are the partially vaccinated or unvaccinated. The consequences of measles infection for pregnant women (who may experience miscarriage, stillbirth or preterm delivery), babies younger than one year old and immunocompromised individuals can be especially severe. Prevention measures as mentioned above should be taken to minimise the risk of contracting measles and urgent medical advice be sought for anyone in this vulnerable group suspects that they have measles.
Measles can be prevented by vaccination with the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella). High uptake is vital in the control of measles and for the prevention of outbreaks. To ensure satisfactory protection, two doses of the vaccine are required; the first is usually offered at the age of 12 months and the second at three years and four months.
In order to reduce the spread of the measles virus, 95% of children should receive two doses of vaccines however this target has not been achieved in locally. Public Health Northamptonshire is therefore urging all parents and guardians to ensure their children are vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), especially if they did not have it when scheduled.
For further information on measles, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles