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Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be unpleasant and can even in serious cases lead to death. Good news is it rare in the UK due to the effectiveness of the MMR vaccination. Anyone can get measles unless they have been vaccinated, and it’s commonly found in children aged between one and four.

Measles virus hides in the millions of tiny droplets which come from the nose and mouth of an infected person during coughing and sneezing. This virus spreads rapidly by touching a surface which is contaminated with the droplets or by breathing them in.

Initial symptoms of measles include:

  • Fever
  • red eyes and sensitivity to light
  • cold like symptoms
  • grey or white spots in the mouth or throat

Within a few days you will notice a red-brown spotty rash across your body, typically behind the ears and neck before spreading to the limbs.

When to visit your GP?

Children experience many rashes during childhood, they aren’t all measles. You should visit your GP if you notice any of the above symptoms and suspect it could be measles.

Measles is a disease of the Doctor who diagnosis the infection will inform the local health authority, in order to identify the source of the infection and prevent it spreading. When measles is confirmed and you notice any additional symptoms, seek medical attention urgently.

Bear with spots

Measles is unpleasant and can lead to complications such as pneumonia and even meningitis, only in rare cases have people died from measles.


There is no specific treatment measles, your immune system should fight the infection off within a couple of weeks. There are several things you can do to make your child feel comfortable whilst they have the measles virus:

  • close the curtains to reduce light sensitivity
  • use a damp, clean cloth to clean the eyes
  • take ibuprofen or paracetamol to relieve fever, aches and pains
  • drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

MMR vaccine

MMR vaccinations are given to prevent measles when a child is roughly 13 months old, this is then followed by a booster injection when they start school. If your child is younger than 13 months old and suspect they have been exposed to the measles virus you should see your GP immediately.

Measles and pregnancy

If you’re planning to have a baby and you think you haven’t had your vaccination, you should visit your GP to arrange an MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella).

Contracting measles during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, premature labour or low birth weight.



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