According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), London might see a significant measles epidemic in the near future.
Despite an increase in MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination rates, it is said that a measles outbreak might lead to tens of thousands of hospitalizations.
The organization predicted that London might suffer an epidemic of between 40,000 and 160,000 cases, which could result in dozens of fatalities and thousands of hospital admissions.
UKHSA consultant epidemiologist Vanessa Saliba says measles is a dangerous infection that can result in problems for children, particularly compromised immune systems. There is now a real potential of seeing significant outbreaks in London due to historically subpar vaccination uptake.
She continues: "Nobody wants to see their child or loved ones sick with measles, or put others who are more vulnerable, like babies, at risk. I urge those who have missed their MMR vaccines to catch-up now."
Data shows that measles cases have steadily increased this year, which suggests that the disease has returned to London. One hundred twenty-eight measles cases were reported between January 1 and June 30, compared to 54 in the United Kingdom in 2022.
The Regional Chief Nurse for the NHS in London, Jane Clegg, says that the number of measles cases in the city is still low, but parents must make sure they and their children are up to date on their vaccinations and protected against the MMR.
Even though instances have been recorded from all regions, 66% of them were found in London. According to UKHSA, measles can result in a severe disease requiring hospitalization for 20 to 40% of younger individuals.
"UKHSA is right to be worried about this. Measles is one of the most infectious viruses to infect humans. About two in 1,000 infected people will die, the main risk being in children under five years old, but adults can get very sick as well."- Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia
He concludes that due to how contagious measles is if vaccination rates start to decline, parents cannot rely on herd immunity to protect their children if they choose not to immunize them. As a result, a measles outbreak in London is likely.
What are symptoms of measles?
Measles is an infection that spreads rapidly and may be quite problematic for certain individuals. The easiest method to avoid it is to get an MMR immunization.
Some symptoms of measles can include:
- Runny nose
Two to three days after the symptoms start, little white spots may also form within the mouth. A rash could appear three to five days after the first signs appear. Flat red patches that start at the hairline of the face and go down to the neck, torso, arms, legs, and feet are often where it starts.
- UK Health Security Agency. London at risk of measles outbreaks with modelling estimating tens of thousands of cases.
- UK Health Security Agency. HPR volume 17 issue 7: news (14 July 2023).
- UK Health Security Agency. Measles: risk assessment for resurgence in the UK.
- CDC. Signs and Symptoms.
- NHS. Measles.