Q I’m alarmed that cases of measles are increasing again. I had it as a child — could I again?
AUnfortunately measles is spreading across Europe, with 282 UK cases last year. High immunisation rates are the best way to protect us all, but some parents still refuse, probably because they haven’t seen measles, which is horrible, producing a runny nose and eyes, high fever, cough and a red-brown rash that spreads down from the head. However, the biggest worry is that complications can be fatal (one in 3,000 cases) or cause permanent brain damage, pneumonia, squint, meningitis and encephalitis, so anyone suspecting measles or contact with measles should seek urgent medical advice.
The UK has been immunising children against measles for 50 years, and most babies and preschool children now have the twodose MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccine. Before that, most children became immune by catching all three viral infections, and this immunity usually persists, so like most adults you’re probably protected.
However, if you’re a healthcare worker, or are in contact with people who are vulnerable or have poor immunity, your employer or doctor might suggest testing your immunity, and an MMR, if necessary – you’re never too old to have an MMR!