Measles outbreak: Cases continue to spike as government issues urgent school and nursery warning

By Staff 6 Min Read

Dozens of measles cases continue to be recorded across the UK with clusters the West Midlands and London driving the increase – parents are being urged to look out for symptoms

Health chiefs have warned measles continues to spread across the country and have urged parents to vaccinate their children against the potentially fatal infection.

Dozens more cases have been recorded in the country since a previous measles update from last week. Data published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) today said 79 more measles cases had been confirmed in England in the past week, bringing the number of cases since October 1 last year to 868. While a measles outbreak in the West Midlands drove an increase in cases, smaller clusters around the UK have stoked the rise in the number of infections.

Since February 24, there have been 182 confirmed cases with 62 being recorded in the West Midlands and 60 in London, the regions with the highest number of infections. In the North West 18 cases were recorded, 15 in the East Midlands and 10 in the East of England.

Of these cases, 546 were in children aged 10 and under and 259 were reported in people and adults aged 15 years and over. The UKHSA said the data is provisional and expects the number of cases from the most recent months to adjust as further suspected cases undergo confirmatory testing.

“We are continuing to see measles cases in the West Midlands, with numbers in London increasing in recent weeks and smaller clusters in other regions. This serves as a reminder of the importance of MMR vaccination,” Dr Vanessa Saliba, UKHSA Consultant Epidemiologist, said in the update.

“It only takes one case to get into a community with low vaccination rates for measles to spread rapidly, especially in schools and nurseries. We know that hundreds of thousands of children around the country, particularly in some inner-city areas are still not fully vaccinated and are at risk of serious illness or life-long complications but measles is completely preventable with vaccination.”

Measles is a virus that can spread very easily and can cause serious health problems in some people, particularly children, but it can be prevented by having the MMR vaccine.

“Our childhood vaccinations campaign is reminding parents of the importance of ensuring their children are vaccinated on time. Parents should check their child’s Red Book now to ensure that children have had their MMR and other routine vaccines” Saliba added. “If you’re unsure get in touch with your GP practice and if needed they will bring your child up to date. Respond as soon as possible if the NHS is in touch to catch up.

According to the NHS, early symptoms of measles include:

  • A high temperature
  • A runny or blocked nose
  • Sneezing
  • A cough
  • Red, sore, watery eyes

Later Symptoms of measles are:

  • Small white spots that may appear inside the cheeks and on the back of the lips a few days later
  • A rash that starts on the face and behind the ears before spreading to the rest of the body

If you suspect your child might have measles, or they are under one year old and have come into contact with someone with the infection, ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111.

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