8 Symptoms Of Measles Parents Need To Know As UK Cases Soar

<span class="copyright">Kosamtu via Getty Images</span>
Kosamtu via Getty Images

Measles is often thought of as a thing of the past because we’ve had an effective vaccine against it for a long time (MMR), but with measles cases on the rise globally, parents need to stay vigilant to spot the symptoms as soon as possible.

In 2023 there was an increase of the measles outbreak in 40 out of 53 countries in the European region. Additionally in the UK there has been an outbreak in the West Midlands, London and Yorkshire.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, UKHSA Consultant Epidemiologist, says: “The ongoing measles outbreak in the West Midlands remains a concern. MMR vaccine coverage has been falling for the last decade with 1 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. 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.”

But how can you spot if your child has measles?

What symptoms should I look out for if I think my child has measles?

The best way to prevent measles is by getting the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination. If someone hasn’t had the vaccine or hasn’t had measles they are prone to getting the infection.

The infection is common in children and usually clears in around 7 to 10 days.

According to the NHS, signs you should be looking out for if you think your child has measles are:

1. Cold-like symptoms, runny nose.

2. Sore, red eyes that might be sensitive to light.

3. Watery or swollen eyes.

4. High fever.

5. Small greyish white spots in the mouth.

6. Tiredness and irritability.

7. Loss of appetite.

8. Aches and pains.

Dr Rachel Barr who is also known as The Kids Doctor says as there has been a recent large outbreak of measles in the UK particularly in the Midlands and around London, she believes it’s important to recognise the symptoms.

“Children aren’t vaccinated in the UK until their 12 months immunisations so your little one may be unprotected. It typically starts with high temperatures, snotty nose, cough and red watery eyes.

“A few days later the rash develops which typically starts behind the ears/on the face and then spreads down over the body. You should notify your GP if you think your child may have measles, it’s best to speak to them over the phone first as measles is highly infectious so they may have to plan a time so you aren’t waiting in a waiting room with other people,” she explains.

Measles can have a number of serious complications and Dr Barr recommends discussing with a health professional if you think you have measles even if your child is currently well so they can discuss all the signs to watch for.