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Record number of measles cases prompts PHE warning

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The latest update from PHE reveals that in England alone there have been 828 confirmed measles cases

Following an outbreak of measles, Public Health England (PHE) is urging travellers to check their vaccination records.

It was revealed by the World Health Organization (WHO) that more than 41,000 children and adults across Europe have been infected with measles in the first 6 months of 2018 - at least 37 people have died so far and this figure is expected to rise.

The latest update from PHE reveals that in England alone there have been 828 confirmed measles cases between 1 January 2018 and the 13 August 2018.

'We would encourage people to ensure they are up to date with their MMR vaccine before travelling to countries with ongoing measles outbreaks, heading to large gatherings such as festivals, or before starting university,' said Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE.

The number of measles cases seen so far this year in Europe exceeds the annual totals for every year this decade. In 2017 there were 23,927 cases compared to 2016’s lower figure of 5273.

'Following the decade’s lowest number of cases in 2016, we are seeing a dramatic increase in infections and extended outbreaks,' said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe.

Ukraine, Serbia, Russia, Italy, Greece, Georgia and France have had more than 1000 cases each in 2018 so far. Ukraine has been the hit the hardest, with more than 23,000 people affected by the disease.

Ms Ramsay continued: 'The measles outbreaks we are currently seeing in England are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe.'

'The majority of cases we are seeing are in teenagers and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine when they were children.'

Symptoms of measles are sneezing and runny noses and signs that the body is fighting infection, such as a high fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches, tiredness, red watery eyes and grey spots in the mouth.

Red spots and a rash on the skin that starts on the head will spread down the body a couple of days after the initial symptoms occur.

The MMR vaccine is available to all adults and children who are not up to date with their two doses. Parents and those who are unsure if they are up to date are advised to contact their GPs.

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