Public Health England (PHE) is reporting that, between 1 January and 9 May this year, 440 laboratory-confirmed measles cases were reported in England. The largest number of cases were reported in London (164), followed by the South East (86), West Midlands (78), South West (42) and West Yorkshire (37). The majority of cases (54%) occurred in those over 15 years of age.
PHE says the increase is mainly linked to importations from Europe that have led to some limited spread in the population, particularly in young people and adults who missed out on MMR vaccine when they were younger, as well as under-vaccinated communities such as migrant populations, travellers and the anthroposophic (Steiner) community. A number of strains have been identified, however the most common strain is the same B3 genotype currently circulating in Romania.
PHE local health protection teams are working with the NHS and local authorities to raise awareness of the measles outbreaks among health professionals and local communities. A series of posters and leaflets have been developed and can be ordered free via the Health and Social Care Orderline. In addition, social media banners are available to anyone wishing to promote MMR vaccination and can be used on digital displays.
The agency says practices should maximise all opportunities for catch-up and is reminding health professionals that the vaccine can also be given from six months of age before travel to a high-risk country.