Since the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1968 it is estimated that 20 million measles cases and 4,500 deaths have been prevented in the UK.
Measles is highly contagious and can lead to complications such as ear infections, pneumonia, and inflammation of the brain which require hospitalisation and on rare occasions can lead to long term disability or death.
Spending 15 minutes or more in direct contact with someone infected with measles is enough to catch the infection. People whose immunity is compromised, pregnant women and unvaccinated children are at increased risk of severe disease.
Measles symptoms to be aware of include:
— high fever
— sore, red, watery eyes
— aching and feeling generally unwell
— a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms.
Anyone with symptoms that could be measles is advised to stay at home and phone their GP or NHS 111 for advice, rather than visiting the surgery or A&E. This is because measles spreads very quickly and easily and so it is important to try and prevent the illness spreading further.
People who have symptoms should also especially try to stay away from areas where you could come into contact with vulnerable people such as schools, nurseries or care homes.
The free MMR vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting against measles, as well as mumps and rubella.