A leading doctor is warning parents about the most dangerous symptoms of measles in children as infections worldwide rise.
The world has seen a huge increase in cases this year, with the World Health Organization confirming a “global measles epidemic” earlier this month. Vaccination of children has fallen to just 85.5% in the UK – despite being vital to keeping the viral disease at bay and potentially saving lives.
According to Dr Stuart Sanders, from The London General Practice, this low vaccination rate means Britain is starting to lose its ‘herd immunity’ and the number of cases is starting to skyrocket. He says there are five key symptoms parents need to look out for to avoid “serious” infection.
These include persistent and prolonged fever, rejection of food and water, severe respiratory symptoms and a deterioration of the clinical condition. Signs of meningitis are also important and should be monitored. These include headache, neck stiffness, vomiting and sensitivity to bright light.
Dr. Sanders warns: “If you notice any of these five serious symptoms, the patient should be isolated until they disappear.”
Anyone going through such an episode should ensure that they drink plenty of fluids and take paracetamol at appropriate intervals.
Dr. Sanders said of the rise in measles: “This is caused by the decline in measles vaccination that started in the 1970s, and that’s because of misinformation about the vaccine.
“Vaccination has fallen further as a consequence of a fraudulent paper written by Professor Andrew Wakefield and published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. The article was later withdrawn, but it caused immense damage and confidence in vaccination was shaken.”
“I’ve been a doctor long enough to remember that measles, before vaccination, unfortunately killed many children.”
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization warned that around 73 million people worldwide who could have received the vaccine did not.
“That means this year in the first few months there were 17,000 measles cases globally, whereas generally in the first two months of previous years the rate was lower – 10,000 or less. So yes, we have a global measles epidemic, and that worries us because it can be a dangerous disease.”