Important Information about Measles

There has been a large increase in the number of people confirmed as having measles nationally in the last few months and there has been an increase in measles cases in West Yorkshire in the last few weeks.  Measles is the most contagious of all of the diseases that are transmitted by coughing and sneezing or breathing air with infected particles.  

Many of us don’t think about measles and don’t know anyone who’s had it.  Public Health are working with partners including health services, nurseries, schools and colleges, to be ready to prevent measles spreading further when we have cases.

Two doses of the MMR vaccine gives life time protection against getting measles and passing it on.  The good news is that uptake of the vaccine is high in Calderdale with over 80% of children having had 2 doses.  However, when uptake is lower than 95% there is a risk that measles will spread and this has been seen happening in other areas of the county at the end of last year.  

It’s never too late to get the MMR vaccine.  Public Health are encouraging parents/carers to check that their child has had 2 doses, and if they haven’t, to contact their GP practice to make an appointment for the jab.  If you are unsure whether your child has had 2 doses, you can contact your GP to check.

The symptoms of measles start with a high temperature, a runny or blocked nose, sneezing, a cough, and red sore watery eyes.  You may notice white sports in the child’s mouth.  A few days after the cold-like symptoms, a rash appears.  It usually starts on the face and behind the ears before spreading to the rest of the body.  Measles can be nasty and rarely it can lead to more serious complications.

If measles is suspected, Public Health advise that parents/carers contact their GP by telephone and ask for an urgent appointment, explaining that it might be measles.  This is so they can arrange for you to visit the practice in a way that reduces the risk of passing measles to others.  It’s very unlikely to be measles if your child has had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine.

It’s also important to think about the vaccination status of staff in nurseries, schools and colleges. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated, who has been exposed to a child with confirmed measles will be asked to stay away from work and isolate for 21 days.  This is because measles has a long incubation period and it can be 2 or 3 weeks between coming into contact with the virus and getting the symptoms.  People with confirmed measles are infectious 4 days before the onset of rash to 4 days afterwards.

Find out more about measles here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles/

Find out more about measles vaccination here: MMR Vaccination