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England measles outbreaks linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe: PHE

In a follow-up on the measles outbreaks reported in the cities of Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham, Public Health England (PHE) reports that the outbreaks are linked to travel to other areas of Europe and advise the public to ensure vaccinations are up to date prior to traveling this Christmas season.

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As of 29 November 2017, there were 16 confirmed cases in Leeds, 11 confirmed cases in Liverpool and 9 confirmed cases in Birmingham. All of the cases have been reported in children and adults who have not received 2 doses of the MMR vaccine.

Children and young people who have not received 2 doses of MMR vaccine are at risk. Unvaccinated people travelling to Romania and Italy, where there are currently large outbreaks of measles, are at particularly high risk.

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Anyone planning to travel to Europe over the Christmas period should check NaTHNaC travel health advice.

PHE local health protection teams are working closely with the NHS and local authorities to raise awareness of the outbreaks in England and Europe with health professionals and local communities.

The MMR vaccine is available to all adults and children who are not up to date with their 2 doses. Anyone who is not sure if they are fully vaccinated should check with their GP practice.

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Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE, said:

The measles outbreaks we are currently seeing in England are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe. People who have recently travelled, or are planning to travel to Romania, Italy and Germany and have not had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine are particularly at risk.

This serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children at 1 year of age and as a pre-school booster at 3 years and 4 months of age. Children and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past or are unsure if they had 2 doses should contact their GP practice to catch-up.

We’d also encourage people to ensure they are up to date with their MMRvaccine before travelling to countries with ongoing measles outbreaks.

The UK recently achieved WHO measles elimination status and so the overall risk of measles to the UK population is low, however due to ongoing measles outbreaks in Europe, we will continue to see cases in unimmunised individuals and limited onward spread can occur in communities with low MMR coverage and in age groups with very close mixing.

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