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Outbreaks of measles

19th December 2017

Public Health England (PHE) has issued a press release highlighting recent measles outbreaks that are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe, with Romania, Italy and Germany being the worst affected countries.

PHE calls on anyone travelling to Romania, Italy and Germany this Christmas to ensure they are up to date with their MMR jab

Measles is highly infectious and can lead to serious complications, particularly in immunosuppressed individuals and young infants. It is also more severe in pregnancy, and increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or preterm delivery.

Members of the Romanian community and unimmunised individuals travelling to Romania, Italy and Germany are at particularly high risk of acquiring measles. Experience from recent outbreaks shows that, despite living in the UK for a number of years, many individuals infected with measles were unvaccinated, and that families are often not registered with a GP practice.

PHE is asking health professionals to note the following:
Individuals with suspected or known measles:

  • should be isolated immediately when attending health care settings to reduce the risk of other patients being exposed
  • recent travel to countries with ongoing measles outbreaks like Romania, Italy and Germany increases the likelihood of a measles diagnosis
  • all suspected measles cases should be promptly notified by phone to the local Health Protection Team (HPT) to facilitate timely public health action

MMR vaccine:

  • children should receive their two scheduled doses of MMR vaccine on time at the ages of 12 months and 3 years and 4 months
  • the MMR vaccine can be given from six months of age before travel to a high risk country
  • patients over the age of three years and four months who do not have two recorded doses of MMR vaccine should be caught up opportunistically. There is no upper age limit to offering MMR vaccine.
  • new entrants from abroad and newly registered patients should have their immunisation history checked and missing doses caught up
  • postnatal women should have their MMR status checked and offered any outstanding doses
  • all health professionals should make sure they are fully protected against measles, mumps and rubella

Under-vaccinated communities:
Health professionals who work with under-vaccinated communities should collaborate with local partners to raise awareness about measles with those most at risk and ensure unregistered populations can access immunisation services.

Measles resources

Measles resources including national guidelines for health professionals and free to order posters and leaflets for patients are :

National guidelines

Free copies of PHE leaflets and posters can be ordered through the Health and Social Care Orderline: Alternatively, you can call 0300 123 1003.

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