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Mapped: Measles cases are surging across England - here’s where’s worst affected

There have been 521 confirmed cases of measles in England since October 2023, UK’s top health body warned

Alexander Butler
Thursday 15 February 2024 22:41 GMT
Measles signs and symptoms as 'national incident' declared

Clusters of measles have been detected across England amid “worryingly” low vaccine uptake in some areas, the UK’s top health body warned.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), urged parents to ensure their children get the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab as hundreds of cases were confirmed across the country.

There have been 521 confirmed cases of measles in England since October 2023, with 68 per cent in the West Midlands, 14 per cent in London and 7 per cent in Yorkshire. The remaining cases were reported in other regions of England.

“Due to worryingly low MMR vaccine uptake in some areas across the country, we are now starting to see clusters of cases in other regions,” Dr Saliba said.

“Measles is completely preventable with vaccination. I strongly urge parents to take up the offer of the MMR vaccine now to make sure their child is protected.”

But where have measles cases been confirmed? And which region has the highest outbreak of the infection? The Independent has put together a map below.

View more

Between October 2023 and February 2024, 358 cases were found in the West Midlands, with 71 cases confirmed in London.

Meanwhile, 20 cases were found in the East Midlands, with 18 confirmed in the North West. Four cases were found in the East of England, with the same number confirmed in the South East.

Eight cases were found in the South West, while one case was confirmed in the North East. Dr Saliba warned there were still hundreds of thousands of children who remain unprotected.

“While parents are coming forward to take up the offer of the MMR vaccine for their children, there are still 100s of thousands of children who remain unprotected and therefore remain at risk of serious complications or life-long disability,” she said.

Parents are being urged to get their children vaccinated against measles (PA) (PA Archive)

Measles can spread very easily among the unvaccinated, especially in nurseries and schools. According to the UKHSA, it can be a very unpleasant illness and can lead to hospitalisation and death in some cases.

People in certain at-risk groups including babies and young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immunity, are at increased risk of complications from measles, the health body said.

Measles usually starts with cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash a few days later. Some people may also get small spots in their mouth. A rash usually appears a few days after the cold-like symptoms, according to the NHS.

Over 99 per cent of those who have two doses of the MMR vaccine will be protected against measles and rubella. The vaccine also provides protection against mumps.

Although mumps protection is slightly lower, cases in vaccinated people are much less severe, highlighting the importance of the MMR vaccination.

In the 1990s and 2000s there was a fall in children receiving the jab due to false claims the vaccine was linked to autism, and the UK lost its measles-free status three years after virus transmission was eliminated.

The World Health Organisation declared the UK measles-free in 2016, but this has not been maintained. From 2022-2023, the percentage of children vaccinated by their second birthday was 89.3 per cent.

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