Measles outbreak in Kent: Parents warned

by Alan Smith

A warning is being issued after it emerged a highly contagious infectious disease spreading across England has reached Kent.

Hundreds of suspected cases of measles have already been reported in Surrey, Liverpool, Leeds and the West Midlands since the start of the year.

Kent is now known to have suffered its first confirmed case since 2016.

News of the outbreak was revealed on the West Malling Group Practice homepage.

The measles virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when an infected person coughs or sneezes

It said: "You may be aware that there have been recent outbreaks of measles in Surrey, Liverpool, Leeds and the West Midlands.

"The PHE Health Protection Team in Kent has been notified of the first confirmed measles case in Kent since 2016.

"Whilst this may be an isolated case the source of infection is unclear and therefore healthcare staff are reminded to consider measles in any patient who presents with fever and rash.

"If measles is suspected please notify the case to PHE immediately, advise exclusion for four days from the onset of the rash and ask about any vulnerable contacts."

Medway GP Dr Julian Spinks said the county had been expecting an outbreak.

There have been large outbreaks in Italy, Germany and Romania, and people holidaying in those countries had been bringing it back with them.

He said when vaccinations slipped below the 95% levels there was always a danger of the virus spreading.

Dr Spinks said there was no treatment for measles.

He added: "All we can do is treat the person symptomatically if they become unwell.

"There is no anti-measles antibiotic because it's a virus, so we rely on vaccination to protect us from it."

He said: "If we don't keep vaccinating people then there's a danger it will make a comeback."

Symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person and last just over a week

Clinical signs and symptoms of measles include:

• High fever, typically increases during the phase between the appearance of initial symptoms and the full development of a rash or fever and peaks around 39C

• Cough, cold, or runny nose

• Red and watery eyes or conjunctivitis

• Small red spots with bluish-white centre may appear around the time of the rash, sometimes one day before, and last for 2-3 days after the rash appears.

Later symptoms:

• Characteristic red/brown blotchy rash (appears 3-4 days after initial symptom onset). The typical rash is non-itchy, starts on the face and upper neck behind the ears, then spreads across the trunk and limbs eventually reaching the hands and feet.

Anyone with any concerns should visit NHS Choices website

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