Measles cases are on the rise
AS WELL as a much publicised current outbreak of measles in France, the rates in England have also been going up this year. There were 300 cases in the first three months of 2011 which is the same as the total for 2010.
Compare this to 1998 when there were 56 cases in total. That same year, a paper was published suggesting the MMR vaccination was dangerous. Older children now are particularly at risk, as they missed the MMR vaccine when they were younger due to the now-discredited health scare.
Because of this it is important to know how to spot a case of measles — most doctors of my generation actually rarely see measles, so parents and GPs need to be vigilant at the moment.
As with other viral infections, children have a high temperature, runny nose, diarrhoea and a cough. Conjunctivitis — sore red eyes — and feeling miserable are also very typical of measles. After three days of being ill the typical red and blotchy measles rash develops — it starts behind the ears, spreading down the head and neck to cover the whole body. It normally turns brownish after a couple of days.
If your children are at risk because they were not vaccinated, you can get them immunised at your local surgery or by a paediatrician. Having the recommended two doses of MMR is the best way to protect your children against measles, although one cannot say that immunisation is 100 per cent effective. One dose is thought to protect over 90 per cent of children — the the second is to catch those who did not get immunity from the first dose.
We are lucky to live in a country where vaccination is available and encouraged, and I sleep well at night knowing I have protected my children.