Measles outbreak spreading across England, warn health officials

There are now more than 100 confirmed cases in the country

Public health experts are urging parents to immunise their children against measles as the potentially deadly bug has now spread to five regions in England.

With more than 100 cases confirmed, Public Health England warns that the UK could be on the verge of an outbreak due to a rise in cases across Europe.

People who have recently visited Romania, Italy and Germany and have not been fully immunised against measles via the MMR vaccine may be most at risk, they said.

“This serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children at one year of age and as a pre-school booster at three years and four months of age,” explained Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England.

“Children and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past or are unsure if they had two doses should contact their GP practice to catch-up.”

While the outbreak was first reported in November as spreading through Leeds and Liverpool, there are now confirmed cases in Sussex, West Midlands, Surrey, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and West Yorkshire.

However, not all cases are being spread by those who have visited countries included in the European outbreak, a spokesperson for Public Health England told The Independent.

"We know that measles cases are showing a link to importation from Europe where there are ongoing outbreaks, but the cases are also spreading within the UK in under-vaccinated communities," they explained.

The highly contagious viral illness can be easily prevented by the MMR vaccination, which also protects against mumps and rubella, and is typically offered in two doses.

The first dose can be administered to babies when they are one year old and health experts stress the importance of getting the second dose in order to complete the immunisation - this is typically administered to babies before they start school.

While anyone can contract the disease if they haven’t been fully vaccinated, measles is most common in young children.

If there are no complications, the illness will normally clear in seven to 10 days with over-the-counter medication and plenty of rest.

According to the NHS, initial symptoms can include aches and pains, a fever and a runny nose. The most distinctive symptom, however, is a red-brown rash that usually appears on the neck before spreading.

If you experience any of these symptoms and you have not had the MMR vaccination experts strongly advise making a visit your GP.

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