More than 1,000 measles cases recorded in England since current outbreak began

More than 1,000 cases of measles have been confirmed in England since the current outbreak began, figures show.

All regions have reported cases in the past few weeks, though prevalence of the virus in the West Midlands – where many of the first infections were detected – has now stabilised.

A total of 1,023 laboratory confirmed cases of measles in England have been reported since October 1 2023, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Of these, 811 have been reported so far this year, well above the number for the whole of 2023 (368).

(PA Graphics)

The last major measles outbreak in the UK was just over 10 years ago and saw 1,920 confirmed cases in England in 2012 with a further 1,414 in 2013.

The rapid increase in cases that began towards the end of last year was initially driven by a large outbreak in Birmingham, but activity there “has now stabilised” and more recently there has been a rise in cases in London with “smaller clusters ongoing in other regions”, the UKHSA said.

Nearly two-thirds of the 1,023 cases since the start of October 2023 (652, or 64%) have been in children aged 10 and under.

Dr Rob Verrecchia, UKHSA health protection consultant, said: “We are continuing to see measles cases right across the country, with cases particularly high in London and the West Midlands.

“Measles is an extremely infectious disease, and it only takes one case to get into a community with low vaccination rates for measles to spread rapidly, especially in schools and nurseries, so it is vital that people are fully protected by two doses of the MMR vaccine.

“Measles is completely preventable with vaccination, but many thousands of children around the country are still not fully vaccinated and are at risk of serious illness or life-long complications.

“That is why our campaign is reminding parents of the importance of ensuring their children are vaccinated.

“Parents should check their child’s red book now to ensure that children are up to date with their MMR and other routine vaccines.

“If you’re unsure, contact your GP practice – they will bring your child up to date if necessary.

“If the NHS is in touch about catching up on missed vaccines, please respond as soon as possible.”