A measles outbreak is continuing on Merseyside.
Since the 1st of January 2012 there has been an increase of reported measles cases to the Cheshire & Merseyside Health protection Unit. To date there have been 81 confirmed cases, and a further 42 “likely/probable” are being followed up.
Of the 81confirmed cases of measles, 51 are located in Liverpool, 13 in Sefton, 7 in Knowsley, 4 in Halton and St Helens, 2 each Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral. Outbreaks of measles have been circulating for a few weeks but have been scattered around Merseyside rather than being clustered to particular settings.
A massive search of GP records has discovered that over 7,000 children under the age of five in Halton, St. Helens, Knowsley, Liverpool and Sefton were not immunised at the optimum age 13 months and therefore are vulnerable to infection. Primary Care Trusts on Merseyside are writing to the parents of these unprotected children, advising them to arrange vaccination through their family doctors.
Dr. Roberto Vivancos, a consultant with the HPA’s Cheshire and Merseyside Health Protection Unit, said: “Measles is highly infectious and unvaccinated children are at risk when it gets into a community. Furthermore, when unvaccinated older children pick up an infection they can pass it on to vulnerable infants who are too young to be vaccinated. That would appear to be what’s happening in this outbreak.”
The HPA advice to children and adults with measles is to:
- Avoid contact with others, particularly pregnant women and infants as they are more vulnerable to infection and measles is highly infectious.
- Stay away from schools, nurseries and work places until at least four days after the onset of the rash.
- Telephone the family GP for advice before attending GP surgeries, NHS walk-in centres or hospital A & E units so that arrangements can be made in advance for minimising the measles patient’s contact with others who may be more vulnerable to infection.
USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT MEASLES AND WHAT TO DO
What is Measles?
Measles is an infectious viral illness that is spread when infected people cough or sneeze. The most common symptoms are fever, cough, sore eyes and a rash that develops 3-4 days after the onset of illness, starting with the face and head and spreading down the body.
Who can get Measles?
Anyone can get measles if they haven't been vaccinated or had it before, although it's most common in children aged between one and four years old.
How is Measles spread?
The measles virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The virus spreads very easily, and is caused by breathing in these droplets or by touching a surface that has been contaminated with the droplets and then placing your hands near your nose or mouth.
What are the symptoms?
The initial symptoms of measles include:
- cold-like symptoms
- red eyes and sensitivity to light
- greyish white spots in the mouth and throat
After a few days a red-brown spotty rash will appear. It usually starts behind the ears, then spreads around the head and neck before spreading to the legs and the rest of the body.
Download NHS childhood conditions slideshow to see what the measles rash looks like.
What should you do if you think you or your children have Measles?
Its really important that we do all we can to avoid the risk of spreading measles….. so if you think that you or your children have symptoms of measles you should:
- Telephone your GP for advice before attending GP surgeries, NHS walk-in centres or hospital A & E units. If it is necessary for a child or adult with measles to attend an NHS facility, the GP can telephone the facility in advance to make arrangements for minimising the measles patient’s contact with other vulnerable patients.
- Stay away from school, nursery or work until at least four days have elapsed since the rash developed.
- Avoid contact with others, particularly pregnant women and infants as they are more vulnerable to infection and measles is highly infectious
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