Health bosses and GPs in Leicestershire are encouraging people to make sure they are up to date with their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in order to prevent the spread of the contagious infection.
Measles is a highly infectious, viral illness. It starts with cold-like symptoms and sore red eyes, followed by a high temperature and a red-brown blotchy rash.
Dr Umar Abdulmajid, a practicing Leicester GP said: “The UK has sadly lost its measles-free status as cases of the virus have become more and more common in the past few years. This increase is partially due to a decreased uptake of vaccination against the virus.
“Although most people will recover from measles, it can lead to serious complications that are most likely to affect young children and people with a weakened immune system. Contrary to popular belief, these complications can affect as many as 1 in 5 unvaccinated people. It is really important that we do everything we can to prevent this.
“Importantly, there is also no medication to treat measles once you have developed the infection.”
Measles is most common in children and can quickly spread through schools and nurseries through coughs and sneezes. That’s why it is recommended that they are vaccinated around their first birthday.
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Dr Lauren Ahyow, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control at Public Health England East Midlands, said: “Measles is an unpleasant disease and spreads very easily amongst anyone who has not had two doses of MMR. It's never too late to catch up with vaccinations if you or your child is behind.
“If you or your children are experiencing any of the symptoms of measles, please stay at home and phone your GP or NHS 111 for advice, to prevent others from being infected.”
Dr Abdulmajid added: “Measles can easily be prevented by having the MMR vaccine, which is safe and effective. This vaccine is given in two doses – it’s really important that you get both doses so that the vaccine works its best.
“I would encourage anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated against measles – or is unsure if they have been – to visit their GP.”
More information on measles can be found on the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles.
You can call the NHS 111 service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or go online at 111.nhs.uk.