Health experts issue ‘devastating’ measles warning as cases surge across UK

Measles is on the rise across the UK and doctors are being urged to keep a close eye on cases of the life-threatening illness in their area. Alarming data from the NHS has shown that no vaccines have met the World Health Organisation’s coverage target of 95 per cent across England – with the rate at its lowest since 2011.

A new report from the body revealed that deaths from measles rose by 43 per cent between 2021 and 2022 on a global scale. Now, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) have warned that some healthcare workers may not have seen symptoms of measles before, and are being told to check whether or not kids have been vaccinated.

The group has also issued guidance on how to treat the highly contagious viral infection which primarily affects children. It is characterised by symptoms such as a fever, cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes and a telling red rash which spreads across the body.

The Mirror reports that the virus is able to spread through respiratory droplets when a carrier sneezes or coughs, and can remain active in the air and on surfaces for several hours. Thankfully, many countries have been declared measles-free due to a highly-effective vaccine. But due to a decline in parents having their kids vaccinated, outbreaks worldwide have reportedly occurred.

On the worrying rise of measles, the RCPCH, said: “The UK is now seeing a devastating resurgence of virtually eliminated life-threatening diseases, such as measles. Evidence also shows that lower socioeconomic status was associated with lower coverage.”

Dr Camilla Kingdon, RCPCH president, added: “Having to consider measles in our national guidance for the first time in decades is a disappointing but necessary move. Vaccination coverage for children under the age of five is now the lowest it has ever been in the past 10 years.

“We are already starting to see the effects of this with measles outbreaks occurring in London, Wales and Leicester. Many paediatricians I know live in fear of potential measles outbreaks this winter. We now find ourselves once again asking the Government, where is the long-awaited vaccination strategy?

“The UK Government must acknowledge these low uptake figures and focus its attention on ensuring equal access to vaccinations across all regions and socioeconomic groups. The winter period is always an extremely tough time for all health care professionals, with high surges in RSV and influenza, as well as circulating COVID-19 and Group A Strep.

“To add another highly contagious and dangerous disease into the mix would be disastrous and could bring our already fragile system to its knees.”

The RCPCH is also calling on the Government to publish a national vaccination strategy. According to the NHS, measles usually starts to improve in around a week, but it can cause major problems when it spreads to other parts of the body like the lungs and brain.

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