East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire may be on the brink of a measles outbreak, doctors are warning.
National media outlets have expressed concerns that the infectious viral illness could be about to sweep the country after a spike in reported cases elsewhere in the UK.
It is usually uncommon in the UK due to the availability of the vaccine, but when an outbreak takes hold it can spread very quickly.
Anyone can get measles if they haven’t been vaccinated or they haven’t had it before, although it’s most common in young children.
The warning states that anyone who thinks they may have measles should "stay at home and phone their GP or NHS 111 for advice".
People are also advised to see their GP if they’ve been in close contact with someone who has measles, and haven’t had two doses of the vaccine.
The tweet by NHS Choices on Thursday afternoon said: "There is an outbreak of measles in both Leeds and Liverpool. This infectious viral illness is easily spread and can lead to complications.
"Ask your GP about the vaccine if you, or your children, haven’t had 2 doses. See the full list of symptoms here: http://nhs.uk/measles "
What is measles?
According to NHS Choices, measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and sometimes lead to serious complications. It's now uncommon in the UK because of the effectiveness of vaccination.
Anyone can get measles if they haven't been vaccinated or they haven't had it before, although it's most common in young children.
The infection usually clears in around 7 to 10 days.
What are the symptoms?
The initial symptoms of measles can include:
- a runny or blocked nose
- watery eyes
- swollen eyelids
- sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light
- a high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40C (104F)
- small greyish-white spots in the mouth (see below)
- aches and pains
- a cough
- loss of appetite
- tiredness, irritability and a general lack of energy
A day or two before the rash appears, many people with measles develop small greyish-white spots in their mouth.
Not everyone with measles has these spots, but if someone has them in addition to the other symptoms listed above or a rash, it's highly likely they have the condition.
The spots will usually last for a few days.
The measles rash appears around 2 to 4 days after the initial symptoms and normally fades after about a week.
You'll usually feel most ill on the first or second day after the rash develops.
- is made up of small red-brown, flat or slightly raised spots that may join together into larger blotchy patches
- usually first appears on the head or neck, before spreading outwards to the rest of the body
- is slightly itchy for some people
- can look similar to other childhood conditions, such as slapped cheek syndrome, roseola or rubella
- is unlikely to be caused by measles if the person has been fully vaccinated (had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine) or had measles before
What should you seek medical advice?
You should contact your GP as soon as possible if you suspect that you or your child may have measles.
It's best to phone before your visit as your GP surgery may need to make arrangements to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others.
You should also see your GP if you've been in close contact with someone who has measles and you've not been fully vaccinated (had two doses of the MMR vaccine) or haven't had the infection before – even if you don't have any symptoms.
There is much more information about measles on the NHS Choices website