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Important information about Measles

This page is provided to you by the UK Health Secutiry Agency (UKHSA) and Ealing Council to offer parents key information about Measles.

You can read this information in other languages. On the top right of this website you will find a function called 'Google Translate'. From here, choose the language you would like to read this information in. The information can also be printed in the chosen language. 

If you know someone who would appreciate this information in an alternative language - please support them to use this facility and print the information off in their chosen language for ease of reading.

Introduction

In the last few weeks there’s been an increase in the number of measles cases. Measles spreads easily and can cause serious illnesses including pneumonia and meningitis.

Parents should check their child’s red book and if necessary update their vaccinations. To do this, contact your GP (doctor) and book an appointment. If a child is not currently registered with a GP, parents can contact a local GP practice and ask to be registered and at the same time request for their child to be vaccinated.

Find your nearest GP by entering your postcode.

If you have any concerns or questions relating to the MMR (Mumps, Measles and Rubella) vaccine or any other childhood vaccinations and would like to discuss these before getting your child vaccinated - the GP will be able to help.

Symptoms of measles to look out for n your child:

  • A high temperature
  • A runny or blocked nose, sneezing or a cough
  • Red, sore, watery eyes
  • A rash with spots of the measles sometimes raised and join together to form blotchy patches; and / or white spots in the mouth.

CLICK the link below to read the parent letter relating to your child and other key information.

Content of the letter to parents

Below is the content of a letter sent to out to parents. If you need this information in another language you can switch to the language of choice from the Google translate button top right of this web page and you can print it out in the chosen language.
You can also download a copy of the letter that went out to parents on the right hand side of this page.

Dear parent/carer,

Re: Rise in Measles in North-West London

In the last few weeks there has been an increase in the number of cases of measles in north-west London, including a few among Ealing children. Measles is extremely infectious and can cause serious illnesses, including pneumonia and meningitis.

Immunisation

Make sure your child gets two MMR vaccines on time; the first at 1 year old and the second at 3 years, 4 months. Having both doses gives long lasting protection against measles, mumps, and rubella. You can find more information about the MMR vaccine on the NHS website or if you have any questions or worries about vaccinations, here’s a video link that helps explain them.

If you or your child missed these vaccines, it’s not too late. Ask for a free vaccine from your family doctor (GP) if you or your children aren’t up to date. If you are unsure if your child is up to date with all their routine immunisations, please check their ‘red book’ (personal child health record) or contact your GP practice. Your GP or practice nurse will be able to review your child’s immunisation status and answer questions about immunisation.

In the UK there are two types of MMR vaccine – the most common one contains gelatine. If parents do not wish for their children to have the gelatine-containing vaccine, they should speak to their GP/health professional for more information and a gelatine-free vaccine can be made available.

 

Symptoms of Measles

If you have symptoms of measles, stay at home and phone your GP or NHS 111 for advice. Stay away from GP surgeries and A&E departments – you could spread the illness to others.

Symptoms include: high fever; sore, red, watery eyes; coughing; aching and feeling generally unwell; and a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the first symptoms (although sometimes harder to see on darker skin).

Please note that when children are feeling unwell, most of the time, they can still attend school, and should be encouraged to do so. It is usually appropriate for parents and carers to send their children to school with mild respiratory illnesses. This would include general cold symptoms: a minor cough, runny nose or sore throat.

However, children should not be sent to school if they have a temperature of 38 degrees or above. If you are unsure, please seek advice by calling NHS 111 or your GP.

Contact with a measles case

The UK Health Security Agency will be notified of all cases of measles and advise on the public health management including contact tracing. Please note that if your child has not had one dose of MMR vaccine and someone else in the same house gets measles, they will not be able to go to school for 21 days after contact with the infected person (the time infection can take to develop).

Factsheet information about Measles (UK Health Security Agency)

The information below is provided by UKHSA

What is Measles?

Measles is an acute infection caused by the measles virus.

Who catches measles?

Measles has become uncommon in the UK because many children have been immunised. It is usually a childhood infection, most common in children of 1-4 years of age who have not been immunised. However, you can catch measles at any age. Epidemics often coincide with school terms when there is much more close contact between children.

How do you catch measles?

Measles is caught through direct contact with an infected person or through the air when he or she coughs or sneezes.

How infectious is measles?

Very, if an individual has either not been vaccinated or become immune through natural infection and they live in the same household as someone with measles there is a 90% chance that they will develop measles themselves. Measles is most infectious before the rash appears and only trivial contact may be sufficient for the virus to spread.

What is measles like?

Symptoms usually develop 9-11 days after becoming infected and last up to 14 days from the first signs to the end of the rash. The first stage of measles includes irritability, a runny nose, conjunctivitis (red eyes), a hacking cough and an increasing fever that comes and goes. The fever peaks at around 40.6ºC (105ºF). These symptoms may last up to 8 days. The rash starts from day 4 and lasts 4-7 days. It usually starts on the forehead and spreads downwards over the face, neck and body. You can see flat red or brown blotches which can flow into each other. There can also be diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

How serious is measles?

One million children die from measles world-wide each year. Complications from the disease are more severe and more likely in infants under 12 months, in children who are poorly nourished, those with weakened immune systems and children with vitamin A deficiency.

In the UK in 1997, there were 4168 notified cases although some of these will have been due to other infections which produce a measles-like rash. Even in the UK, complications are quite common. They include a severe cough and breathing difficulties (croup), ear infections, viral and bacterial lung infections (pneumonia), and eye infections (conjunctivitis). Most are caused by secondary bacterial infections which can be treated with antibiotics.

The most serious problems involve the nervous system. Inflammation of the brain (acute encephalitis) occurs 2-6 days after the rash has appeared. Less than 1 in 1000 measles cases is affected in this way, but 25% of those are left with brain damage. Sub acute sclerosing pan-encephalomyelitis (SSPE) is the most severe complication of measles but is very rare, occurring in less than 1 in 100,000 cases of measles.

It usually occurs years after the initial illness and is a slowly progressive brain infection. SSPE starts with intellectual impairment and deteriorates to seizures and eventually death. Measles infection during pregnancy can result in the loss or early birth of the baby.

Can you prevent measles?

Immunisation programmes are essential to prevent measles and there is a highly effective vaccine available. This is part of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) immunisation with a first dose at 12-15 months and a second dose usually given from 3 to 3 and half years onwards. If missed, immunisation can be given at any age. Definite past infection will protect against future infection. Pregnant women or those with weakened immune systems should not be immunised. More information on MMR immunisation can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/mmr-vaccine.aspx

How soon should a child be back at school after measles?

Measles is most infectious from 4 days before the appearance of the rash until 4 days afterwards. It is recommended that a child should be kept off school for 4 days after the onset of the rash. A oral fluid test to confirm or refute the diagnosis may be suggested.

How can you treat someone with measles?

There is no specific treatment for measles although if secondary complications occur they may be treated with antibiotics. The patient should drink lots of clear fluid to replace body water lost through the fever. Paracetamol can be used to reduce the fever. Aspirin should NOT be given to children as its use is associated with Reye’s Syndrome (a severe neurological disorder). If parents/carers become concerned about the development of complications, they should consult their doctor. Further information on measles is available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles/Pages/Introduction.aspx

What to do if you are concerned your child might have measles

Contact NHS 111 or telephone your GP if any of the below list applies:

  • You think you or your child may have measles
  • You've been in close contact with someone who has measles and you've not had measles before or you've not had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine
  • You've been in close contact with someone who has measles and you're pregnant – measles can be serious in pregnancy; or
  • You have a weakened immune system and think you have measles or have been in close contact with someone with measles.

Important Note: Wherever possible please do not attend GP Practice or A&E in person if you or your child have symptoms as this may spread the infection to others.

How to stop infection from spreading

Measles is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. There are things you can do to reduce the risk of spreading or catching it.

Do

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water
  • Use tissues when you cough or sneeze; and
  • Throw used tissues in the bin straight away.

Don’t

Share cutlery, cups, towels, clothes, or bedding.

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