UK Measles Outbreak Outpaces 2022
The U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) today announced there had been a significant increase in measles cases in the city of London and across the U.K.
On May 4, 2023, the UKHSA's Health Protection Report volume #17 reported that between January and April 20, 2023, there were 49 cases of measles compared to 54 cases in 2022.
Thirty-three (67%) cases were in London, and 40% were in children.
Twelve cases were imported or import-related, with the others reflecting community transmission in the U.K.
Measles elimination was briefly achieved in the U.K. in 2016, but by 2018, measles virus transmission was re-established.
In 2019, there were 880 laboratory-confirmed measles cases in the U.K., and 82 cases were confirmed in early 2020.
Since 2022, measles activity has been ramping up globally, with significant outbreaks underway in multiple South Asia, such as India (over 61,000).
The U.K.'s outbreak could be related to under-vaccinations, as the number of children vaccinated against measles has decreased.
The uptake in the U.K. for the first dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in children aged two years in England is 89%. This is well below the World Health Organization's 95% target rate.
Dr. Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA, commented in a press release, "We are calling on all parents and guardians to make sure their children are up to date with their 2 MMR doses."
"It's never too late to catch up, and you can get the MMR vaccine for free on the NHS, whatever your age.
Measles spreads very quickly and can lead to complications that require a stay in hospital and, on rare occasions, can cause lifelong disability or death. And measles is a highly infectious viral illness, so anyone with symptoms should stay home.
In the U.S., the CDC reported ten measles cases in eight jurisdictions as of April 28, 2023, with 121 reported in 2022.
In addition, the CDC published a global Watch-Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions notice on April 6, 2023, highlighting measles outbreaks in Africa (March 2023), Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria.
Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease. Various types of MMR vaccines are generally available in the U.S. at most clinics and community pharmacies.