In light of the recent steep rise in UK measles cases, 1st Contact Travel Clinic is urging all UK parents to have their children vaccinated as soon as possible and are offering the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine for just £30.
Over the past few months, the Health Protection Agency has seen a marked increase in measles cases in the UK, with figures revealing at least 275 confirmed cases in the first quarter of 2011, compared to 33 for the exact same period last year. Most of the infected are children and young adults and many cases reported are clustered around schools and universities, while some are directly related to travel abroad. The areas worst hit in the UK are London and the South East, with 104 and 102 cases of measles reported in these areas respectively.
Epidemic in France
The sudden outbreak is thought to be linked to an epidemic in France, where more than 1000 cases have been reported since January. Serbia, Spain, Macedonia and Turkey have also reported significant outbreaks and health protection units are encouraging parents to make sure their children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine before travelling to mainland Europe in the next few months.
Signs and Symptoms
The incubation period for measles is 10 – 14 days. The onset of fever gradually increases and lasts for around 4 days. Most people also suffer from conjunctivitis and an irritating cough. A few days after the onset of fever, the characteristic bright red rash starts to appear on the forehead and neck before spreading to the trunk. Measles is highly contagious from the first signs of fever until the appearance of the rash!
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (German Measles) are all three airborne diseases, contracted via droplets released from the respiratory tract of an infected person through coughing, spitting or sneezing. Each is dangerous, but Measles is undoubtedly the worst, as it can cause encephalitis, which can be fatal.
The MMR vaccination provides 90% – 97% effectiveness in immunising against the three diseases and is usually given to children; the first injection is normally administered when they are about 13 months old.
A second dose is given between three and five years of age before they start school, and this second shot increases effectiveness to around 99%.
If your children need to be protected against quickly (for instance if they have only ever had one shot or if you’re planning to go to mainland Europe soon) they can have the second dose of the MMR vaccine one month after the first dose.
Most people can have the MMR vaccine, but there are a few exceptions, so please speak to your GP or to the Nursing Sister at the 1st Contact Travel Clinic if you’re unsure.
The 1st Contact travel Clinic is situated at Castlewood House, 77-91 New Oxford Street, London and open until 6 pm Monday to Wednesday and until 7 pm on Thursdays. Visit http://www.1stcontact-travelclinic.com/ for more information or call 0808 141 5506 (UK Free call) to book an appointment.