Doctors have warned that an outbreak of measles in Essex could already be take hold of the region.
Measles in Essex and the South East
Public Health England (PHE) confirmed that 20 cases of the virus have so far be detected across the South East between February and early March. While only two cases have been found in Essex, these figures indicate a significant rise compared with the 91 cases confirmed across the whole country in 2015.
The public health body said that the majority of cases were unimmunised adolescents and young adults (aged 14 to 40 years). Many of those affected have been admitted to hospital for treatment.
The government officials are asking people across the country to check that they have received two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine.
In addition to the increase in cases of measles in Essex and the South East of England, the number of confirmed cases of scarlet fever has also been on the rise.
Dr Kevin Brown, Deputy Director of the Virus Reference Department at Public Health England, said: “It’s important to be aware that it’s 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.
“Also remain alert to 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.”
What are the symptoms of measles?
Measles is a highly infectious viral infection. Symptoms will begin to appear around 10 days after infection.
- cold-like symptoms, such as a runny or blocked nose, coughing, and sneezing
- sore, swollen, red eyes that might be sensitive to light
- lack of energy
- a high temperature that can go up to about 40C (104F)
- small grey-white spots inside the mouth
- loss of appetite
A few days after these initial symptoms have appeared, the measles rash can become visible in the head and neck area. It will look like small red-brown dots (flat or raised) that can join together to form large blotchy patches. The rash will then spread to the rest of the body.
The measles rash can appear very similar to that of other common conditions, such as slapped cheek syndrome, roseola or rubella (German measles).
Treatment for measles
All symptoms will usually be gone after around 7 to 10 days.
Doctors advise bed rest and appropriate treatment for the cold-like symptoms; drink plenty of fluids, and take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve discomfort.
Sufferers should also try to avoid contact with anyone who is more vulnerable to the infection, such as young children and pregnant women.
Go to A&E deparment or call for an ambulance if you or your child develop any of the more serious symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- a sharp chest pain that feels worse with breathing
- coughing up blood
- convulsions (fits)
Source: NHS Choices