Thursday, 21 Sep 2023

The earliest signs of measles to spot after London outbreak warning

Measles: We have forgotten how dangerous it is says expert

Measles describes a highly contagious, serious viral disease caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family.

The condition is normally passed through direct contact and the air. 

The virus then infects the respiratory tract, spreading throughout your body and causing severe disease, complications and even death, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns.

Worryingly, London could see tens of thousands of measles cases due to low levels of vaccination, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

The health agency suggested an outbreak could affect between 40,000 and 160,000 people.

READ MORE London could see tens of thousands of measles cases warns UKHSA

The UKHSA, therefore, said there’s an “urgent” need to vaccinate children, teenagers and young adults.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, a consultant epidemiologist at the UKHSA, said: “Due to longstanding sub-optimal vaccine uptake, there is now a very real risk of seeing big outbreaks in London.

“Nobody wants to see their child or loved ones sick with measles, or put others who are more vulnerable, like babies, at risk. 

“I urge those who have missed their MMR vaccines to catch up now.”

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If you have any questions or concerns, you should get in touch with your GP practice or local pharmacist for advice.

What are the earliest signs and symptoms of measles?

According to the WHO, the “first” sign of measles is high fever, which usually begins about 10 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. 

This initial symptom is then followed by tell-tale signs like runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks.

The rash usually strikes after several days, appearing on the face and upper neck. 

The heath body states: “The rash spreads over about three days, eventually reaching the hands and feet, and lasts five to six days before fading. 

“On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of seven to 18 days).”

The NHS recommends asking for an “urgent” GP appointment or calling NHS 111 if you think you or your child might have measles.

Measles can lead to serious problems if it spreads to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or brain, making getting medical help imperative.

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