Measles outbreak in West Midlands 'remains a concern', health officials say

An ongoing measles outbreak in the West Midlands "remains a concern", the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said, with 127 cases of the disease confirmed across England this month. 

The organisation said there have been 347 laboratory confirmed measles cases reported in England since 1 October last year.

In comparison, just 53 cases were confirmed in all of 2022.

Three quarters - or 260 - of these cases have been in the West Midlands, while 46 (13%) were in London and 24 (7%) in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Two thirds of cases have been in children under 10.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, UKHSA's consultant epidemiologist, said: "The ongoing measles outbreak in the West Midlands remains a concern.

"MMR vaccine coverage has been falling for the last decade with one out of 10 children starting school in England not protected and so there is a real risk that this outbreak could spread to other towns and cities.

"Measles is a nasty illness for most children and for some can be serious, but it is completely preventable."

She added: "Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your children. If you or your child are not up to date with your two doses of MMR vaccine please contact your GP to catch up now."

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There were 1,603 suspected cases of measles in England and Wales in 2023, UKHSA statistics showed earlier this year.

The figure is up from 735 in 2022, and just 360 the year before.

The World Health Organisation previously warned that there had been an "alarming rise" in the spread of measles across Europe.

Measles usually starts with cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash a few days later. Some people may also get small spots in their mouth, according to the NHS.

The measles infection can spread very rapidly and lead to serious complications, lifelong disability and even death.

It can affect the lungs and brain and cause pneumonia, meningitis, blindness and seizures.

The NHS says the best way to protect yourself against measles is vaccination.