The world’s “most contagious disease” is hitting the UK as the first signs and symptoms emerge. The NHS has issued a warning about a measles outbreak in Victoria as cases of infection among children rise as Christmas and New Year approach.
Last year, the number of infections increased by 3,000% across the continent. The main symptoms are fever and rash, but if it spreads to the lungs or brain, it can cause serious complications such as pneumonia, seizures, meningitis, and blindness. The surge is being blamed on “backsliding” vaccination rates.
“Vaccination is the only way to protect children from this potentially dangerous disease,” Dr Hans Henri P Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said. “Urgent vaccination efforts are needed to halt transmission and prevent further spread. It is vital that all countries are prepared to rapidly detect and timely respond to measles outbreaks, which could endanger progress towards measles elimination.”
Measles symptoms appear 7 to 14 days after contact with the virus and typically include high fever, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes. Measles rash appears 3 to 5 days after the first symptoms. Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. Measles typically begins with high fever (may spike to more than 104°), cough, and runny nose (coryza), and conjunctivitis.
Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body.
When the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104° Fahrenheit. “It’s never too late to get vaccinated,” Prof Helen Bedford, an expert in child public health at University College London, previously told The Sun. “Make sure you check your child’s red vaccination book, but if you can’t find it, or they don’t have a record, call your GP to check.”