Statement and public information: Suspected measles outbreak in Southend-on-Sea

Published Wednesday, 2nd October 2019

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The council is working with colleagues at Public Health England (PHE) regarding a suspected measles outbreak in Southend-on-Sea involving eight people.

The eight all attend local day services for people with learning disabilities.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is in direct liaison with specialist health protection clinicians at Public Health England who are managing the suspected outbreak.

Collectively, we are adopting a precautionary approach to this situation to help interrupt any potential further spread.

As an immediate priority, and alongside our colleagues at the CCG and Southend Care (who run day services for people with learning disabilities), we are identifying and contacting those people who may have been directly exposed and are offering those people MMR vaccinations if they are not already immunised. At this time, we expect this offer will be made to approximately 200 people.

Southend Care have closed Project 49 in Alexandra Street for the rest of the week, and we have advised a small number of other day services in the area to close today (Wednesday 2nd October), as a precautionary measure.

Although it is only a suspected outbreak at this stage, we are adopting this precautionary approach at this time because of:

  •          the nature of the signs and symptoms presented
  •          the vulnerability of the group showing measles like symptoms
  •          the nature of measles (it is highly contagious)

Public Health England’s national advice to the public is to ensure that you and your family are up to date with all vaccinations included in the NHS national immunisation schedule.

This is the most effective method we all have for keeping ourselves safe and free from these potentially serious infections and diseases. If you are unsure of your vaccination status, your GP practice should be able to advise you of which vaccinations you may still need.

What are the signs and symptoms of measles?

The initial symptoms of measles develop around 10 days after you're infected.

These can include:

  • cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing and a cough
  • sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light
  • a high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40C (104F)
  • small greyish-white spots on the inside of the cheeks

A few days later, a red-brown blotchy rash will appear. This usually starts on the head or upper neck before spreading outwards to the rest of the body.

Bear in mind that most adults born before 1970 are likely to be immune because they have probably been exposed to measles already.

What should I do if I think I have these symptoms?

PHE advises people with symptoms of measles to:

  • stay away from school, nursery or work until four days have elapsed after the onset of a rash
  • telephone your GP or NHS walk-in centre before attending so that arrangements can be made for you to be treated in a separate area to prevent spread to other vulnerable patients
  • avoid contact with people generally, but particularly babies, pregnant women and anyone who is known to have poor immunity to infection

It is important to stress that this is a suspected outbreak at this stage, and further updates will be issued as appropriate.

Useful links and advice for public reference:

NHS Measles page:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles/

NHS measles outbreak advice:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/measles-outbreak-advice/

MMR vaccine information:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/mmr-vaccine-when-needed/