There is a common misconception that only children are susceptible to measles. While it is true that children contract the disease more commonly, adults are at risk too. A recent outbreak in Wales, where over 800 cases were confirmed in Swansea, acts a timely reminder that a measles epidemic can break out at any time and place.

So, what is measles?

Measles is a viral disease that can very uncomfortable for the sufferer. It can cause some very nasty complications such as ear and eye infections, diarrhoea, vomiting, pneumonia and meningitis. At its worst it has even been known to cause blindness and death, although that’s very rare.

What are the initial symptoms?

  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Sore, red eyes and sensitivity to light
  • Fever type symptoms
  • Greyish white spots in the mouth

Do these symptoms develop into something else?

Within a few days, and after the initial symptoms, a red-brown spotty rash will develop. The measles rash will usually start behind the ears, before spreading around the head and neck and then the legs and torso.

Is the disease curable?

If you have already contracted measles then the bad news is that there is no cure. This leaves the only method of prevention as a vaccination, which is available in the form of MMR vaccine.

Most children have been given an MMR vaccination. However, if you are unsure whether you missed a jab at any time it is best to check with your GP, who will be able to consult your medical records. If your GP is also unsure, there is no harm in having a second or even a third jab. It’s always better to be safe then sorry.

Is the disease infectious?

Yes, extremely. Measles is contained within millions of tiny droplets that are exhaled from the nose and mouth, meaning that the disease can be contracted by coming into direct contact, touching and kissing, or even breathing the same air as a sufferer. This means that any group of people that regularly come into contact with many others, such as students, are at a high risk of catching the disease if they haven’t been vaccinated.

How do I arrange a vaccination?

Arranging an MMR jab is quick and easy. Simply make an appointment at your GP surgery or contact your student health service. You’ll be administered with the two jabs that make up the total vaccination. These can take place within a month of each other, and upon their completion you will have 99% protection from measles.

Measles is no joke and it’s back in circulation. Make sure you’re protected and check that your jabs are up to date.