Thursday 28 March 2019
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and sometimes lead to serious complications.
The current outbreaks in the USA, Europe and England remind us of the need to be vigilant. The measles spreads quickly from person to person, especially in schools. A child with measles will infect almost all unvaccinated children they have contact with.
Although we have high rates of vaccination in the Guernsey and Alderney, the levels dropped from 96% to 92% in recent years.
Dr Nicola Brink, Director of Public Health said:
"Although we have not seen any cases of measles locally over the last few years, the fall in the uptake of MMR vaccine is of concern. Back in the days before a vaccine was available, hundreds of thousands caught measles in England and around a hundred of these died each year. But now, our whole community benefits from the herd immunity the safe and effective MMR vaccination offers. This means that fewer people get ill and the disease's spread is restricted. I would therefore remind all parents of the need to vaccinate their child and would also urge parents whose children have not received the vaccine to reconsider. This is particularly important in view of the current situation in the USA, England and Europe."
Jo Rocha, Health Protection Nurse, added:
"This is particularly important as we approach the Easter Holidays when Islanders may be travelling to areas where there are measles outbreaks. If you are unsure about your immunisation history, please contact your GP. Furthermore I would strongly recommend that anyone with suspected measles contact their GP."
Facts about Measles
Measles is caused by a virus. Early symptoms include the onset of fever, malaise (aches and pains), coryza (head cold), conjunctivitis (red eyes) and cough.
The most common complications of measles include pneumonia, ear infection, diarrhoea and convulsions. Measles can also cause encephalitis and death.
Measles is a notifiable disease in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. This means that health professionals must inform Public Health Services of suspected cases.
When are the MMR vaccinations usually given?
The best times are between 12 and 13 months of age and again at three years and four months, with one dose on each occasion. But, if your child wasn't vaccinated then, they can be vaccinated at any age with two doses one month apart.