Measles cases more than double in UK as major outbreaks rip through cities

Measles used to be the single leading killer of children before a worldwide vaccination campaign in the 1960s.

However, recently the deadly disease has seen a shocking resurgence throughout England and Wales, according to the latest data.

The suspected cases of measles more than doubled in 2023 compared to the year before.

There were 1,603 suspected cases of measles in England and Wales last year, up from 735 in 2022, and 360 the year before, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Currently, the Birmingham Children’s Hospital is grappling with a major outbreak of measles with more than 50 children hospitalised in the past month alone.

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Experts have blamed the return of measles infections on vaccine hesitancy following disinformation around the COVID-19 vaccines.

The uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella shot has fallen throughout the country.

Medical experts argue that a rate of at least 95 percent vaccination can protect the population.

Figures from December 2022 show the MMR vaccination rate in Birmingham was 83 percent.

The West Midlands appear to the be epicentre of the crisis with around 80 percent of the most recent cases in Europe all coming from the UK region.

Dr Naveed Syed, a health protection consultant in the West Midlands, said: “We are seeing cases of measles rising every day in the West Midlands.

“The virus is very infectious and can spread rapidly among communities, such as schools, if people have not had at least one dose of the MMR vaccine.

“People may not realise how severe measles can be. While most people will recover within a couple of weeks, the virus can cause serious illness.

“Sometimes this can leave permanent disability and it can even cause death.”

However, it is not just the West Midlands suffering, with another significant outbreak in London in December infecting at least 44 children.

Across the continent itself, there has been a 30-fold increase in the number of measles cases last year compared to 2022.

Public Health Scotland said there have been “very few” cases north of the border.

The preventable disease causes initial flu-like illness with symptoms that include a high fever, red eyes and a rash that spreads around the entire body.

Patients with measles often develop ear infections, severe gastrointestinal upset, pneumonia and brain swelling, which can be fatal.

It is thought that disinformation following the coronavirus pandemic has led to a renewal of the false claim that the jab causes autism.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, the measles lead at the UKHSA said it was only “a matter of time” before UK cases “take off again in quite a big way”.

She said: “One in 10 children who get measles will get complications, and sometimes it can be fatal.

“But it’s completely preventable with a vaccine. Every case we get is a real shame.”

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