A British town has been placed on measles alert after recording an increase in children with the “extremely contagious” disease.
Several teenagers were taken to Sheffield Children’s Hospital with the virus, the health service said.
Yvonne Millard, senior nurse at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said measles cases are increasing in hospitals across the country.
She said: “Although we have treated a very small number of patients for measles this week, we are not currently treating anyone at Sheffield Children’s.”
All Sheffield patients are believed to have contracted the virus outside of hospital, she told The Star.
Cardiff and Leicester have also been hit by an outbreak of the virus infection, with officials reporting a rise in cases in recent weeks.
Noreen West, deputy medical director at Sheffield Children’s, has urged parents to protect their families by ensuring they are up to date with MMR vaccinations.
She said: “Measles is extremely contagious and can be serious for some people. However, if your child has received both MMR vaccinations, the chance of them becoming infected is very low.”
“The best way to prevent your children from getting measles is to make sure they get their two MMR vaccinations on time – the first at one year of age and the second at three years and four months .”
“If you or your children have missed these vaccinations, it is not too late. Ask your GP about the free vaccination if you or your children are not up to date.”
The number of MMR vaccinations is at a 12-year low, separate figures show.
This year, only 85 percent of five-year-olds are fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine.
According to the World Health Organization, at least 95 percent of people need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that spreads quickly from person to person, especially in schools.
In the most severe cases, it can sometimes cause pneumonia or even death.
It is so contagious that a child infected with it will infect up to nine out of ten children around them if none are vaccinated.
Measles deaths worldwide rose by more than 40 percent last year, according to a new report from the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), found an 18 percent increase in the estimated number of measles cases between 2021 and 2022.
That’s an increase from about 7.8 million cases to 9.2 million.
Measles deaths rose 43 percent worldwide, from 95,000 in 2021 to 136,200 in 2022.
Experts attribute an increase as well as outbreaks and deaths to falling vaccination rates.
Is your family at risk of measles?
The Notification of Infectious Diseases Report (NOIDS), which tracks suspected infectious disease cases in England and Wales, showed cases were increasing in both countries.
There were 547 suspected infections between July and November 12 – more than double the 251 cases in the same period in 2022, government data shows.
The latest update showed there were 35 measles cases in the week ending November 12, nine more than the same period the previous month.
The East Midlands is one of the worst affected areas in the UK in the last week – with eight positive tests.
The West Midlands is next with seven suspected cases, followed by London with five.
Wales is third with four cases, while the east of England and the north west reported three cases each.
The southwest reported two infections.
Meanwhile, there was one case each in the North East, Yorkshire and Humber and the South West.
What are the symptoms of measles?
Measles usually begins with cold-like symptoms.
- a high temperature
- a runny or stuffy nose
- a cough
- red, sore, watery eyes
A few days later, small white spots may appear in the cheeks and on the back of the lips. These spots usually last a few days.
A patchy red rash usually appears a few days after the cold-like symptoms. It starts on the face and behind the ears before spreading to the rest of the body.
The condition usually goes away within seven to ten days, but it can also lead to other serious complications.
Serious complications can occur, including miscarriages in pregnant women, brain swelling, and the risk of dying from pneumonia.
It is very unlikely that it is measles if you have received both doses of the MMR vaccine or have had measles before.
However, if you think you or your child may have measles, ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111.