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Actual Confirmed Measles Cases in UK

Posted May 05 2010 7:53am

According to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) only 13 cases of measles with onset dates between January and March 2010 have been confirmed in England and Wales. All were from the southern half of England with six cases identified in the South East region, four in the East of England, two in the South West region and one in London.

Nine of the 13 cases were associated with travel abroad (Ireland (3), India (2), France (2), Italy, and Ethiopia). In addition, a further two cases without any travel history were identified to have measles virus strains not previously seen in the UK, suggesting contact with someone who has been infected abroad, although no contact was identified. None were known to have been vaccinated.

Six of the cases so far this year have been in adults over 20 years of age, including a healthcare worker who has been identified as non-immune in occupational health screening.

Measles outbreaks normally happen every year in May and in the last four years the May peak can affect as many as 200 people. Full report .

Is Measles Dangerous?

Unless you are seriously malnourished or have a faulty immune system you are extremely unlikely to die of measles. The fatality rate from measles for otherwise healthy people in developed countries is 3 deaths per thousand cases, or 0.3%. On the other hand, in underdeveloped nations with high rates of malnutrition and poor healthcare, fatality rates have been as high as 28%. In immunocompromised patients (e.g. people with AIDS) the fatality rate is approximately 30%.


Clinical diagnosis of measles requires a history of fever of at least three days together with at least one of the three C’s (cough, coryza, conjunctivitis). Observation of Koplik’s spots is also diagnostic of measles.

Alternatively, laboratory diagnosis of measles can be done with confirmation of positive measles IgM antibodies or isolation of measles virus RNA from respiratory specimens. In children, where phlebotomy (blood sampling) is inappropriate, saliva can be collected for a test known as – salivary measles specific IgA, where IgA is the form of antibody normally found in saliva. Positive contact with other patients known to have measles adds strong epidemiological evidence to the diagnosis. The contact with any infected person in any way, including semen through sex, saliva, or mucus can cause infection.

The leading clinical UK experts for measles in children can be contacted at Great Ormond Street Hospital or The Portland Hospital for Women & Children .

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