Public Health England (PHE) is asking parents to check that they and their children have received two doses of Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and to be aware of the signs and symptoms of measles, following notification of eight confirmed, 12 probable and five possible cases of measles in children and young adults in the Gloucestershire area.

Parents are also being asked to remain vigilant for signs and symptoms of measles and keep themselves or children away from nursery, school or work if they display symptoms. You should stay off work or school for four days after the typical measles rash has developed.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and sometimes lead to serious complications.

Most people recover from measles after around 7 -10 days but sometimes it can lead to serious complications and it is estimated that around 1 in every 5,000 people with measles will die as a result of the infection.

Measles signs and symptoms

The initial symptoms of measles develop around 10 days after a person is infected. These can include:

– cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, and a cough
– sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light
– a high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40C (104F)

A few days later, a red-brown blotchy rash will appear. This usually starts on the head or upper neck, before spreading outwards to the rest of the body.

Symptoms usually resolve in about 7 to 10 days.

It is now uncommon in the UK because of the MMR vaccination programme. Although usually a mild illness in children, measles can be more severe in adults.

Dr Toyin Ejidokun, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health England South West, said, “While measles is now relatively uncommon in England thanks to the MMR vaccine, those who are unvaccinated, or not fully vaccinated, remain susceptible to the disease.

“The cases we have seen recently have affected young children. It is important to be aware that it is never too late to have the vaccine, so if you’ve not received two doses of the vaccine in the past – or you’re unsure – speak to your GP. There’s no harm in receiving an additional dose where there is any uncertainty.

“The MMR vaccine is safe and effective vaccine and claims suggesting a link between the vaccine and autism have long-been thoroughly discredited.

“We are asking the community to remain alert to the symptoms of measles, which can include cold-like symptoms, sore red eyes, a high temperature or a red-brown blotchy rash.

“If you experience these symptoms seek medical attention, but be sure to phone ahead before you visit your GP surgery so arrangements can be made to prevent others from being infected.

“You should also see your GP if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has measles and you’ve not been fully vaccinated (had two doses of the MMR vaccine) or haven’t had the infection before – particularly those who are immunosuppressed, pregnant or infants.

The MMR vaccination is routinely provided as part of the NHS Childhood Immunisation Programme in England. Uptake is high with more than 90% of children receiving 1 dose of the vaccine by 2 years of age since 2012.

For further information about measles, please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles/Pages/Introduction.aspx