Measles: What You Need To Know

Do you know the symptoms of measles?

With recent outbreaks of measles in England it’s important to know the signs and symptoms. Public Health England have issued a warning for all parents to check if their children have been vaccinated against measles.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness, that can be prevented by vaccination with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Measles can be a very unpleasant illness which can lead to serious complications. Anyone can get measles if they haven’t been vaccinated, although it’s most common in young children.

Symptoms typically occur 10 days after the person is exposed to the virus. The illness usually resolves itself after 7–10 days.

Initial symptoms can include:

  • Cold-like symptoms – runny nose, sneezing and cough
  • Sore, red eyes or watery eyes, swollen eyelids
  • High temperature, fever
  • Small grey-ish white spots in the mouth
  • Tiredness, lack of energy

A few days after the initial symptoms, a red-blotchy rash can appear. This usually starts on the head or neck, before spreading to the rest of the body.

What should you do if you suspect that you or your child has measles?

You should contact your GP as soon as possible if you suspect measles. As measles is highly infectious, it’s best to telephone a GP, to reduce the spread of infection. You should also speak to a GP if you have been in close contact with someone who has measles, especially if you haven’t been fully vaccinated against measles or if you haven’t had the infection before. You should still contact your GP even if you don’t have any symptoms.

It is important to try and stop the spread of infection to others. You should stay off work or keep children off school for at least 4 days from when the rash first appears. You should also try and avoid contact with people who may be more susceptible to infection, such as pregnant women, elderly and young children.

Washing your hands regularly with soap and water and using a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and throwing it straight into the bin, are ways to help prevent the spread of infection.

How can you prevent measles?

The best way prevent measles is by vaccination with the MMR vaccine.

If you are not sure if your child is fully vaccinated against MMR, you can check if their vaccinations are up-to-date with your GP surgery. To be fully vaccinated against measles your child should have received 2 doses of the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine is offered to all children as part of the NHS Childhood vaccination programme – the first dose is given around 13 months old, and a second dose is given at 3 years and 4 months.

Adults and older children can be vaccinated at any age if they haven’t been fully vaccinated before. If you unsure if you were vaccinated in the past, having the vaccine again won’t do any harm.

For further information on measles see NHS choices.

If you suspect you or your child may have measles, get in contact with a GP as soon as possible. Remember it is best to speak to a GP over phone or video to prevent the spread of infection. Our ZoomDoc GPs are available 24/7 for telephone and video consultations, and home visits. If you need to speak to a GP, just download our app and speak to a GP within seconds.