Boss of Harrogate District Hospital raised ‘considerable concerns’ about rise of measles

The boss of Harrogate District Hospital has raised concerns about the rise of measles across the UK.

Measles is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause serious illness and is often caught by young children.

Cases have been rising throughout the country and recent figures published by the UK government state there have been 789 confirmed cases since October 1.

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Measles is transmitted through the air in tiny droplets after an infected person sneezes.

Credit - NHS InformCredit - NHS Inform
Credit - NHS Inform

Symptoms include a blotchy red or brown rash on the face and behind the ears, before it spreads to the rest of the body.

Jonathan Coulter, chief executive of the Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust said the rise in cases is a “considerable concern” with low vaccination rates a “continued worry”.

The MMR jab is designed to protect children from measles, mumps and rubella but the number of young primary school children who have had both doses of the MMR vaccine is below WHO targets.

Some blame this on a discredited study from 1998 that linked the vaccine to autism but recent studies by the World Health Organisation have found there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

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Approximately 85% of children in England during 2022-23 had received two MMR doses by their fifth birthday, the lowest level since 2010-11. The recommended figure is 95%.

A Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said the rise in measles infection rates is “most likely” related to a fall in the uptake of the MMR vaccine in recent years.

They said: “Measles is a highly infectious virus, and can pose a significant threat to the health of children, pregnant women and those with underlying illnesses. Measles is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. To reduce the risk of spreading or catching it there are simple things you can do such as wash your hands often with soap and warm water, use tissues when you cough and sneeze and throw used tissues in the bin.

“Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust has been following the national guidance provided for any cases of suspected measles, and we are encouraging colleagues to be vaccinated. The MMR vaccine is offered to all children in the UK and two doses can give lifelong protection against measles, mumps, and rubella. If you are not sure if you or your child has had the vaccine, please contact your GP to discuss next steps.”

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