Measles: Symptoms, Risks, and Prevention
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a warning to parents to ensure that their children are up to date with their MMR vaccinations after an increase in cases of measles. The UK had recorded 49 cases of measles as of May 2023, compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022, with most cases being detected in London. Measles is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease that affects the respiratory system. It is caused by a virus that spreads through contact with infected mucus and saliva.
Symptoms of Measles
The initial symptoms of measles typically develop around 10 days after infection. The symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and red eyes that may be sensitive to light. A high temperature may also occur, which can reach around 40°C, and small, greyish-white spots may appear on the inside of the cheeks. After a few days, a red-brown blotchy rash usually appears, starting on the head or upper neck and spreading to the rest of the body.
Risks of Measles
Measles can lead to serious health complications if left untreated, including infection of the lungs and brain. The disease can cause meningitis, febrile convulsions, liver infection (hepatitis), pneumonia, and encephalitis (infection of the brain). Measles can also be fatal, particularly in unvaccinated children.
Prevention of Measles
Routine measles vaccinations for children have been in use for the past 50 years. In the UK, measles is prevented by giving the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which is given in two doses as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. The uptake for the first dose of the MMR vaccine in children aged two years in England is 89%, and the uptake of two MMR doses in children aged five years is 85%. This is below the 95% target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the aim of achieving and maintaining elimination.
Alternatively, a treatment called human normal immunoglobulin (HNIG) is used if you’re at immediate risk of catching measles. There is no specific antiviral treatment that exists for measles, but there are several measures you can take to help relieve your symptoms. These include taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to soothe fever, aches, and pains, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water, keeping the curtains closed to reduce light sensitivity, and using damp cotton wool to clean the eyes.
Who Should Have the MMR Vaccine?
The first dose of MMR vaccine is offered to all children at one year old. Children are given a second dose of MMR before they start school, usually at three years and four months. There are certain circumstances where children should not have the MMR vaccination, which are detailed on the NHS website. Adults who missed out on the MMR vaccine as a baby and are therefore not immune can have the MMR vaccine on the NHS.
Is the MMR Vaccine Safe?
In the 1980s, there was some controversy about whether the MMR vaccine might cause autism following a 1998 study by Dr Andrew Wakefield. This caused a dramatic drop in the number of children being vaccinated. There was later found to be no evidence to link the MMR vaccine and autism. While the MMR vaccine may not work for everyone and cause side effects in some children, the vaccine is generally recognised as safe. However, deciding whether or not to get your child vaccinated is a personal choice, so make sure you speak to your GP who can best advise you.
Measles is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease that can lead to serious complications if left untreated. The best way to prevent measles is through routine measles vaccinations for children. The MMR vaccine is safe and effective in preventing measles, mumps, and rubella. If you or your child are experiencing symptoms of measles, seek medical attention immediately.
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- Measles prevention and control measures
News Source : Georgia Chambers and Tom Herbert
Source Link :What is measles? Vaccine, rash, and symptoms as UK sees rising cases/