january 2024

How to protect yourself and your family from measles

The recent rise in measles cases may have you concerned and this is understandable; measles is a highly infectious disease that must be notified to your GP. We've created a simple guide with everything you need to know about measles, including how to recognise it, what to do if you suspect you or your child might have measles, and how protect yourself & your family.

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How to protect yourself and your family from measles

If you have come across the recent news of a rise in measles cases among children under 10 in the UK, you will probably welcome some more information, practical advice and reassurance.

In this blog you will find:

  • Important information about measles
  • Ways to reduce the risk of infection
  • How to recognise measles
  • What to do if you think you or your child have measles
  • Treating and relieving symptoms of measles

What you need to know about measles

  • Measles is a highly infectious disease and it is mostly transmitted by droplet spread (sneezing & coughing) or by direct contact with ‘snotty’ tissues (or hands, or faces!) or sputum (coughed up mucus) from an infected person
  • Measles is generally infectious from 4 days before the rash appears and for up to 4 full days after the onset of the rash
  • Measles is an acute viral disease. As it is a virus, it cannot be treated with antibiotics
  • Children under the age of 5 are at increased risk of developing complications such as middle-ear infections, pneumonia and diarrhoea
  • Rare complications of measles include encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
  • 20% of children who become infected with measles need hospital admission
  • In pregnancy, measles could cause premature labour, low birth weight, and miscarriage

What you can do to reduce the risk of infection:

If you or your children haven’t been vaccinated or have only had a single dose of the 2-dose MMR vaccine, make an appointment at your health centre to ascertain whether your or your child need the full course (2 injections) or just the second dose. Note that:

  • The MMR (Measles, Mumps & Rubella) is a live vaccine and cannot be given in pregnancy.
  • If you are trying to conceive, you are advised to avoid getting pregnant within a month of your second dose of MMR
  • In children, the first dose of MMR is offered at 12 months and the second dose at 3 years and 4 months
  • In adults and older children, the 2 doses can be give a month apart

    Avoid contact with people who do not feel well. In its initial phase, measles can appear as a common cold, but this phase is highly infectious, so it is best to keep away from anyone with ‘cold-like’ symptoms if you are pregnant, your child is