Doctors warn of dangerous impact of measles as cases spike and vaccine uptake slumps

ITV News Health and Science Correspondent Martin Stew saw how officials are tackling cases in Leicester, and heard from one mother who lost her daughter to the virus

In 2017, Measles was declared to be officially eliminated in the UK. Getting rid of a disease which killed 7,000 people a year just a century before was a major public health triumph.

Since Covid, cases of Measles have been back on the rise. Conversely, vaccination rates have been in decline for a decade, but these really dropped after the pandemic.

In Leicester, where four cases were confirmed this week, vaccination rates have fallen from 93% to 79.2% since 2012/13 - a decline which Rob Howard, Director of Public Health at Leicester City Council, puts down to apathy.

"There may be something about vaccine fatigue. People got so used to vaccines about Covid and flu and haven't got time," Mr Howard said.

"I think the main reason is people have forgotten how horrible a disease Measles can be especially if you are more vulnerable."

Dr Rob Howard told ITV News 'people have forgotten how horrible a disease Measles can be'. Credit: ITV News

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 95% uptake to ensure herd immunity.

Measles is more contagious than Covid or flu, with each patient passing it on to 15 others, on average.

Scientists at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) fear such low rates of vaccine protection could see numbers rise quickly from the very low rates at the moment into the hundreds or even thousands.

There is no need to panic in this country as rates are very low and most fevers won't be measles.

What should you do if you're concerned your child has Measles?

If you do have concerns you are advised to call your GP surgery as soon as possible and explain your child's symptoms. Alternatively, you can call 111 or get help online.

You should not go directly to your GP surgery or A&E until you have spoken with a medical professional.

Parents are advised to look out for a rash, which usually starts on the face and behind the ears, spreading around the body a couple of days after fever-ish symptoms. Your child is likely to be feeling very poorly too.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...