UK declares national incident as measles cases soar

UK declares national incident as measles cases soar

Between 1st October 2023 and 18th January 2024 (15 weeks), there have been 216 confirmed and 103 probable cases of measles in the West Midlands (a region in the UK) with the majority of cases among children under the age of 10.

It has prompted the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to declare a national incident, an internal mechanism signalling that this a growing public health risk - i.e. potential for an epidemic - triggering steps to limit further spread of the outbreak including vaccination campaigns and programmes.

UK disease agency declares national incident as measles cases soar
The U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has declared a national incident over a surge in measles cases across the country. Its chief executive Jenny Harries said today that “immediate action” is ne…

In 2022 there were only 54 confirmed cases of measles in the UK.

And it is not just the UK. According to data from the World Health Organisation, Europe has seen a 30x increases in measles cases compared with 2022. Over 30,000 cases were reported by 40 of Europe’s 53 Member States between January and October 2023.

Why are measles cases surging? In the UK vaccine uptake is the lowest it has been in over a decade. There are a number of factors all combining together. The 1998 Andrew Wakefield claim of a causal link between the MMR vaccine and autism (now discredited) undoubtedly led to vaccine hesitancy globally in, what are now, the parents of children today. The COVID pandemic led to delays to children getting both initial jabs and follow on boosters in addition to 'vaccine fatigue'. In some cases parents simply forgot to follow up or were not notified.

Dr Ronny Cheung, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health went so far as to say that people had forgotten about the risks of measles.

A number of diseases have been eradicated globally (for example smallpox) and in most countries (for example polio). However, what happens when such diseases reemerge or emerge in places that were previously unaffected?

Sometimes that can happen due to falling vaccine take up but sometimes it can be because changing habitat is bringing diseases into countries that would not have otherwise had them.

Climate change is doing just that. Here is something we wrote about last year.

Link to blog 👇🏾

Climate change spreading the impact of infectious diseases.
Tropical diseases are coming to a community near you, even if you live in the temperate ‘north’. A recent FT article highlighted this topic, which we wrote about last year (perhaps they read our blogs? ). Some health issues that will arise from climate changes and environmental degradation don’t tend to

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