MEASLES kills more than 136,000 children every year, according to the World Health Organization.
A rash isn’t the only red flag symptom of measles
Experts fear this has caused a dramatic spike in cases, meaning measles now kills 136,200 globally, a report in November 2023 found.
Measles deaths across the world increased by 43 per cent in 2022, up from 95,000 the previous year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed.
It added that cases had jumped by 18 per cent in that same time period – from about 7.8million to 9.2million – while the number of countries reporting “large or disruptive outbreaks” of measles rose from 22 to 37.
The UK is currently battling a “concerning” rise in cases, with two thirds in under-10s.
More than 465 were confirmed between October 2023 and January 2024. One man in Ireland has died.
John Vertefeuille, director of the CDC’s Global Immunisation Division, said in a statement: “The increase in measles outbreaks and deaths is staggering, but unfortunately, not unexpected given the declining vaccination rates we’ve seen in the past few years.”
But this telltale sign usually surfaces a few days after kids fall ill – and there are nine other symptoms mums and dads should keep their eyes peeled for, according to NHS Inform.
Measles symptoms typically start appearing about 10 days after infection. They can include:
Cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, and a cough
Sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light
A high temperature that may reach around 40C
Small greyish-white spots in cheeks or back of the lips
Aches and pains
Loss of appetite
Tiredness, irritability and a general lack of energy
The measles rash usually develops around two to four days after the cold-like symptoms.
The telltale rash:
Usually first appears on the head or neck – typically on the face and behind the ears – before spreading outwards to the rest of the body
Is made up of small red-brown, flat or slightly raised spots that may join together into larger blotchy patches
Looks brown or red on white skin but can be harder to see on black or brown skin
Is not usually itchy but can be slightly itchy for some people
If you think you or your little one has measles, you should phone your GP immediately.
It’s also important to do so if your child has been in close contact with someone who has measles and has not been fully vaccinated or hasn’t had the infection before.
Do this even if they don’t have any symptoms.
How can I look after a child with measles?
While most measles sufferers recover, it can be very unpleasant to endure – especially for youngsters.
It can, however, usually be treated at home and will pass within a week to 10 days.
The NHS says it can help your child to:
Rest and drink plenty of fluids
Have crusts from their eyes gently removed with cotton wool soaked in warm water
Children should stay off nursery or school for at least four days after the rash appears.
How can I stop my child catching measles?
The best way to protect your child from measles, for which there is no treatment or cure, is by getting them vaccinated against it.
This means two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
The first dose can be administered when your child is one and the second when they’re three years and four months.
If your little one has missed these jabs, you can still ask your GP surgery to give them.
Official figures show uptake of the vaccine is at its lowest point in more than a decade.
A staggering 3.4million under-16s in Britain are at risk of catching the virus as they have only had one or neither MMR jab.
When should I get my child urgent help?
If measles, which is described as one of the world’s most contagious diseases, spreads to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or brain, it can become very serious.
The illness can also lead to lifelong disabilities and even death.
You should call 999 or go to A&E if your child has measles and:
Shortness of breath
A high temperature that does not come down after taking paracetamol or ibuprofen
The lifesaving vaccines you need at every age
6-in-1 vaccine (2nd dose)
Rotavirus vaccine (2nd dose)
6-in-1 vaccine (3rd dose)
MenB vaccine (2nd dose)
Hib/MenC vaccine (1st dose)
MMR vaccine (1st dose)
Pneumococcal vaccine (2nd dose)
MenB vaccine (3rd dose)
Two to 15 years
Children’s flu vaccine (every year until children finish Year 11 of secondary school)
Three years and four months
MMR vaccine (2nd dose)
4-in-1 pre-school booster vaccine
12 to 13 years
3-in-1 teenage booster vaccine
Flu vaccine (given every year after turning 65)
Shingles vaccine (if you turned 65 on or after 1 September 2023)
70 to 79 years
Source: The NHS