Measles

Update on measles outbreak:

NHS 111 Wales - Vaccinations

 

Measles is an infection that spreads very easily and can cause serious problems in some people. Having the MMR vaccine is the best way to prevent it.

 

Measles usually starts with cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash a few days later. Some people may also get small spots in their mouth.

Cold-like symptoms

The first symptoms of measles include:

  • a high temperature
  • a runny or blocked nose
  • sneezing
  • a cough
  • red, sore, watery eyes

Spots in the mouth

Small white spots may appear inside the cheeks and on the back of the lips a few days later. These spots usually last a few days.

unnamed (2).png

The measles rash

A rash usually appears a few days after the cold-like symptoms.

The rash starts on the face and behind the ears before spreading to the rest of the body.

The spots of the measles rash are sometimes raised and join together to form blotchy patches. They're not usually itchy.

The rash looks brown or red on white skin. It may be harder to see on brown and black skin.

unnamed (1).png

 

If you're not sure it's measles

It's very unlikely to be measles if you've had both doses of the MMR vaccine or you've had measles before.

See other rashes in babies and children

Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:

  • you think you or your child may have measles
  • you've been in close contact with someone who has measles and you've not had measles before or you've not had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine
  • you've been in close contact with someone who has measles and you're pregnant – measles can be serious in pregnancy
  • you have a weakened immune system and think you have measles or have been in close contact with someone with measles

Measles can spread to others easily. Call your GP surgery before you go in. They may suggest talking over the phone.

You can also call 111.

How to look after yourself or your child

Measles usually starts to get better in about a week.

After seeing a GP, there are things you can do to help ease the symptoms and reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

It can help to:

  • rest and drink plenty fluids, such as water, to avoid dehydration
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve a high temperature – do not give aspirin to children under 16 years
  • use cotton wool soaked in warm water to gently remove any crusts from your or your child's eyes

Important

Stay off nursery, school, or work for at least 4 days from when the rash first appears.

Also try to avoid close contact with babies, people who are pregnant and people with weakened immune systems.

How to avoid spreading or catching measles

Measles is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. There are things you can do to reduce the risk of spreading or catching it.

Do

  • wash your hands often with soap and warm water
  • use tissues when you cough or sneeze
  • throw used tissues in the bin

Don’t

  • do not share cutlery, cups, towels, clothes, or bedding

Complications of measles

Measles can lead to serious problems if it spreads to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or brain.

Problems that can be caused by measles include:

  • pneumonia
  • meningitis
  • blindness
  • seizures (fits)

These problems are rare, but some people are more at risk. This includes babies and people with weakened immune systems.

Measles in pregnancy

If you get measles when you're pregnant, it could harm your baby.

It can cause:

  • miscarriage or stillbirth
  • premature birth (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
  • your baby having a low birthweight

It's important to get medical advice if you're pregnant and have been in close contact with someone who has measles.

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

You or your child has measles and:

  • shortness of breath
  • a high temperature that does not come down after taking paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • confusion
  • seizures (fits)

Get vaccinated against measles

The MMR vaccine can prevent measles. It also protects you from mumps and rubella.

The MMR vaccine is offered to all children in the UK. 2 doses can give lifelong protection against measles, mumps, and rubella.

Ask at your GP surgery if you're not sure you or your child have had the vaccine. They can give it for free on the NHS.

Find out more about the MMR vaccine

If your child has any of the following features:

  • Has blue lips
  • Too breathless to talk / eat or drink
  • Is pale, mottled and feels abnormally cold to touch
  • Is extremely agitated (crying inconsolably despite distraction),
  • Is confused or very lethargic (difficult to wake)
  • Has a fit / seizure
  • Has double vision or blurred vision
  • Has a rash that does not disappear with pressure (the ‘Glass Test’)






You need urgent help.

Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999

If your child has any of the following features:

  • Has laboured/rapid breathing or they are working hard to breathe – drawing in of the muscles below their lower ribs, at their neck or between their ribs (recession).
  • A harsh breath noise as they breathe in (stridor) present only when they are upset.
  • Seems dehydrated (sunken eyes, drowsy or passed no urine for 12 hours)
  • Is drowsy (excessively sleepy) or irritable (unable to settle them with toys, TV, food or picking up) – especially if they remain drowsy or irritable despite their fever coming down
  • Has pus coming out of their ear
  • Is 3-6 months of age with a temperature of 39°C / 102.2°F or above (but fever is common in babies up to 2 days after they receive vaccinations)
  • Continues to have a fever of 38.0°C or above for more than 5 days






You need to contact a doctor or nurse today.

Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS Wales 111 - dial 111

  • If none of the above features are present, most children with measles can be safely managed at home.
  • However, if your child has measles, you still need to inform your GP practice as there may be other people that your child has come into contact with that may be at increased risk of severe infection.






Self care

Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, call NHS Wales111 – dial 111

What should you do ?

Keep watching your child for signs of red and amber features (as mentioned above). If they develop, it might mean they have a more serious illness that needs specific tests and treatment. Ask for help in such cases.

To help your child feel better you can use paracetamol (calpol) and/or ibuprofen to lower their temperature. Try one medicine first, and if your child doesn't get better within 2-3 hours, you can try the other one. Remember, though, that fever is the body's normal response to fight infections, and the medicines won't make it go away completely.

Don't use tepid sponging on your child because it doesn't actually reduce their temperature and might make them shiver. Encourage your child to drink lots of fluids. If there are any crusts your child's eyes, gently remove them using cotton wool soaked in warm water.

If you think your child has measles, let your GP practice know. Your child can spread the infection to others from the time their symptoms start until about four days after the rash appears. If you are pregnant and haven't received 2 doses of the MMR vaccine, or if there are any children in your family who are under 12 months old or haven't had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine, please inform your GP practice urgently, as they might need immediate treatmentt to protect them from getting measles. And if your child with measles has been in contact with someone who has a very weak immune system (from the onset of their symptoms until four days after their rash begins), let that person know about your child's measles and ask them to contact their GP practice or NHS Wales 111 urgently. Finally, make sure that you/your partner are up to date with your MMR vaccines before getting pregnant as measles can be extremely severe during pregancy and can harm your unborn baby.

 

Where should you seek help?

Unless your child has red features (see above), try to stay away from public places including pharmacists, GP practices and A&E departments as your child may spread their infection to others.

If your child has any of the above amber features (see above), urgently contact your GP or call NHS Wales 111. Make sure you let them know if your child has not been vaccinated against measles (MMR vaccine). 

You should only call 999 or go your nearest A&E department in critical or life threatening situations. Let a member of staff know as soon as you arrive if your child has not been vaccinated against measles (MMR vaccine). 

For wear and tear, minor trips and everything in between.

Self-care

You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.

Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.

Sound advice

Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment and many have private consultation areas, so they are a good first port of call. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.

Sound advice

  1. Visit a pharmacy if your child is ill, but does not need to see a GP.
  2. Remember that if your child's condition gets worse, you should seek further medical advice immediately.
  3. Help your child to understand - watch this video with them about going to the pharmacy.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.

Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns or to the Community Paediatricians or to the child and adolescent mental health services.

Contact them by phoning your Health Visitor Team or local Children’s Centre.

Sound advice

Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:

  • Breastfeeding, weaning and healthy eating
  • Exercise, hygiene and safety
  • Your child’s growth and development
  • Emotional health and wellbeing, including postnatal depression
  • Safety in the home
  • Stopping smoking
  • Contraception and sexual health
  • Sleep and behaviour management (including temper tantrums!)
  • Toilet training
  • Minor illnesses

For more information watch the video: What does a health visitor do?

School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5-19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and/or emotional health needs.

Contacting the School Nurse

Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse – telephone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.

There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.

Sound Advice

Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.

They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:-

  • encouraging healthier lifestyles
  • offering immunisations
  • giving information, advice and support to children, young people and their families
  • supporting children with complex health needs

Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.

Sound advice

You have a choice of service:

  1. Doctors/GPs can treat many illnesses that do not warrant a visit to A&E.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.

Sound advice

Use NHS Wales 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

Sound advice

  1. Many visits to A&E and calls to 999 could be resolved by any other NHS services.
  2. If your child's condition is not critical, choose another service to get them the best possible treatment.
  3. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about going to A&E or riding in an ambulance

Improving the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of expectant mothers, infants, children and young people throughout Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Area.

(N.B: The Family and Therapies team at ABUHB is NOT responsible for the content on the webpage links that we refer to in our resource sections and linked information to external sites. All information was accurate and appropriate at the time the webpage was created.)

Accessibility tools